NFL shows once again that its six-game suspension policy is meaningless

Getty Images

As NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell faced a torrent of criticism for his decision to suspend Ray Rice just two games for domestic violence, he released a statement acknowledging he got it wrong and promising stiffer suspensions in the future. Specifically, Goodell said players would get suspended at least six games in the future.

“Effective immediately, violations of the Personal Conduct Policy regarding assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault that involve physical force will be subject to a suspension without pay of six games for a first offense,” Goodell wrote at the time.

That policy has proved to be meaningless. Yesterday the NFL announced that Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has been suspended three games for touching an Uber driver “in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent.” So why didn’t Winston get six games?

Because the NFL frequently flouts its own policy.

Just three days after the NFL announced its policy, Jets receiver Quincy Enunwa was arrested and charged with simple assault when police said Enunwa pulled a woman off a bed, hurting her head and finger. After the NFL investigated, Enunwa was suspended four games.

Then-Giants kicker Josh Brown was arrested on a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. Brown was suspended one game. After a backlash against the NFL’s decision to suspend Brown one game and reports that he’d had a long pattern of terrorizing his ex-wife, he was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list. He hasn’t played since.

Then-Packers tight end Andrew Quarless was accused of firing a gun in the air during an argument with a woman. After the NFL investigated, Quarless was suspended two games.

Washington linebacker Junior Galette was arrested and charged with misdemeanor simple battery/domestic violence. After the NFL investigated, Galette was suspended two games.

Less than a month after the NFL announced its mandatory six-game suspension policy, then-Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer was arrested at the team facility for head-butting his wife and breaking her nose. He was suspended three games. (The incident took place before the NFL announced the mandatory six-game suspension policy, although the arrest and the suspension both happened while the policy was in place.)

In 2015, then-Cowboys running back Joseph Randle had the police called on him for domestic violence with a weapon after an incident with the mother of his son. Randle was suspended four games.

The NFL will no doubt say that some of those cases had mitigating circumstances, and that’s why those players got less than six games. The NFL is less than transparent about explaining its suspensions, so we don’t know what those mitigating circumstances are. But regardless, the reality is that when Goodell claimed there would be a six-game suspension for a first offense, he wanted the public to believe that the NFL now had a strong standard for crimes against women. As it has turned out, there is no such standard other than the NFL’s continuing decision to make up suspensions as it goes along.

60 responses to “NFL shows once again that its six-game suspension policy is meaningless

  1. Didn’t josh brown retire before being put on the commissioners exempt list? Also Zeke was never charged or arrested and was suspended 6 games. The commissioner is inconsistent and the owners are fools for extending his contract without having a separate comittee created without his oversight.

  2. This is just one more incident, in a long line, where the NFL shows a lack of direction and vigorous management policy, inaction and enforcement.Roger Goodell has CLEARLY shown that he is NOT the man for the position of Commissioner and should be summarily dismissed ! db

  3. So funny, if they left those suspensions at the 6 games etc, the story would be how the NFL is stopping athletes from earning a living with stiff suspensions….

  4. Or rather, they will mete out a sentence to fit the crime. Not that I like defending Roger Godell one bit, he at least should be in a position like judges in Federal courts. And that is to NOT be subject Federal Sentencing Guidelines or minimum suspension guidelines. For example the two game suspension Andrew Quarless got was for the same action musician Arthur Lee perpetrated many years back. Lee had two minor drug convictions and as this ‘crime’ fell under the Three Strikes sentencing rules, he got an eleven year sentence and served six. Sentencing guidelines and strong suspension policies sound good, but they create even more inconsistencies.

  5. We’ve been paying attention the last few years.

    We’re all aware that the NFL policy with regards to suspending players is completely arbitrary in all respects.

  6. “Specifically, Goodell said players would get suspended at least six games in the future.”
    ============================

    That’s not what Goodell or the NFL Conduct Policy said. The policy is that the BASELINE for suspension is 6 games – meaning starting point is 6 plus or minus based on circumstances. The wording is in the document itself. No one ever said it was a fixed minimum of six games.

  7. Double standards and corruption run deep in Roger Goodell’s National Integrity League.

  8. Note that the policy also stated it was for actions involving “physical force”…nothing here indicates physical force, just non-consensual pervy groping. Please stop making me side with Goodell on…well…anything.

  9. Goodell’s suspension policy is a joke. When Albert Haynesworth stomped on Andre Gurode’s head while he lay on the ground, Goodell said, “There is absolutely no place in the game, or anywhere else, for the inexcusable action that occurred in yesterday’s Titans-Cowboys game”, and Haynesworth received a 5-game suspension. Last year, when Rob Gronkowski dove forearm-first at a prone Tre’Davious White (and gave him a concussion), Gronk got a mere one-game suspension. Two players (Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree) got a longer (initial) suspension for a mere slap fight last season.

  10. It is all based on Goodell’s Ideal Ass Law; hear the facts, make up some of your own, roll a dice and boom – number of games suspended*

    *if player is in the NYJ or NYG organization just ignore it.

  11. Paper Lions says:
    June 29, 2018 at 7:51 am
    Note that the policy also stated it was for actions involving “physical force”…nothing here indicates physical force, just non-consensual pervy groping. Please stop making me side with Goodell on…well…anything.

    ———

    If you don’t think that non-consensual groping doesn’t involve “physical force,” I don’t know what to tell you. If Jameis groped a woman without her consent (aka: sexual assault), then he should be in jail.

  12. “Meaningless?” Hardly. There’s nothing wrong with showing flexibility based on circumstances, especially in sexual matters where there’s a broad range of offenses.

  13. Does Goodell have a responsibility to be transparent? If my boss suspends me, I’m hoping he doesn’t say a single word to the media. I’ll still be getting my punishment.

  14. Gronk did NOT give the guy a concussion…..he was NEVER DIAGNOSED WITH A CONCUSSION & played the following week….
    & what Gronk did was wrong, I’m not debating that….
    I do hold the REF’s/LEAGUE very much accountable for his reaction though…. GRONK is allowed to be held on almost every play & fitting THAT GAME he was being held a ton, ESPECIALLY on that play which even led to an interception to boot…. the OBVIOUS LACK OF HOLDING CALLS DIRECTLYLED to his over reaction…..
    Football in an emotional game & if refs don’t call things fair thruout the course of a game it can lead to things getting out of hand to where a player takes matters into his own hands “in the heat of the moment” & does something stupid to resolve the issue…..right, wrong , or indifferent, the holding then stopped didn’t it??!!
    ALSO, please don’t throw Gronk in with a bunch of women beaters & domestic violence abusers when talking about suspensions as the two types of incidents aren’t even close to the same thing when discussing the suspension policy

  15. akira554 says:
    June 29, 2018 at 7:43 am
    That’s not what Goodell or the NFL Conduct Policy said. The policy is that the BASELINE for suspension is 6 games – meaning starting point is 6 plus or minus based on circumstances. The wording is in the document itself. No one ever said it was a fixed minimum of six games.
    ———————-
    That IS what the smallprint of the 2014 policy says but Fraudger’s public pronouncements did push the angle of “beefing” things up and the 6-games (already typical, see Big Ben) as being an effective minimum after the Ray Rice 2-games PR debacle. The policy wording itself however, as you allude to, allows Fraudger huge latitude to consider any circumstances to mitigate against 6 – hence Josh Brown got 1 game in 2016 for being a Giant, until the PR got to hot, and Winston gets 3 because the Bucs already struggle to fill a stadium and they aren’t in the NFC East.

  16. “Note that the policy also stated it was for actions involving “physical force”…nothing here indicates physical force, just non-consensual pervy groping.”

    You want to explain how physically forcing his hand into a woman’s crotch against her will does not involve “physical force”? Not he didn’t beat her but this definitely involved forcing himself on her.

  17. My biggest problem is when these players get suspensions without an ounce of proof that they actually did what they were accused of doing. In some of these cases, it was literally a “he said, she said” situation where the NFL always sides with the “she said” side.

    Zeke Elliott’s suspension last year, which the NFL went to the end of the earth to defend, was exactly a “he said, she said” situation where every single 3rd party witness sided with Zeke, including personal friends of the accuser. The NFL’s own lead investigator (who ironically doesn’t work for the NFL anymore) proposed not to suspend him at all after she met with the accuser.

    Arguably, Winston’s case is similar. One party says he did it, multiple parties say he didn’t.There’s no rhyme or reason as to how these suspensions are doled out.

  18. Let’s all stand up for the national… err, hypocrites, nonsense and trumps. that’s the NFL

  19. Is Winston the first player to ever get a three game suspension? They are attempting to quantify or equate horrible and/or criminal behavior with games. Beat the hell out of a woman, that’s two games. Grab a stranger’s crotch, that’s three games. Deflate a football, that’s four games. Fail a couple of urine tests for weed, that’s a whole season. The NFL is run by nitwits.

  20. This is what politicians and business leaders do. They announce policy changes when media coverage and public outcry are at their height. Then when all the furor dies down and the media is onto other attention grabbing stories, they go back to doing what they’ve always done.

  21. Meanwhile, the guy with seemingly the clearest “mitigating circumstance” (a girlfriend whom evidence pointed to having an axe to grind and whose allegations did not line up with witness testimony) got the full six games. Good to know!

  22. I used to think I couldnt live without football. As a guy whom has watched for over 50 years I believe that the game will be gone within 20 years due to the concussion issue. I will not miss watching a game filled with criminals who are constantly given a pass on their illegal behavior…..

  23. Yet Josh Gordon has lost nearly 3 seasons for pot and alcohol violations. Yes I’m aware that they were self inflicted, but who exactly was hurt? If this example doesn’t show the disparity and bias, then I don’t know what does.

  24. streetyson says: “The policy wording itself however, as you allude to, allows Fraudger huge latitude to consider any circumstances to mitigate against 6 – hence Josh Brown got 1 game in 2016 for being a Giant, until the PR got to hot”
    =============================

    Nice revisionist history. Josh Brown only got an initial 1 gm suspension because the wife refused to be interviewed by the NFL. There was no physical evidence to go on. So basically, they suspended him on nothing but “suspicion.”

    It was only later that Josh Brown’s PERSONAL JOURNAL came out that revealed past DV incidents. Add to that his wife was divorcing him, so she had no reason to continue to protect him.

    Basically, if a doctor told you to write a daily journal as part of the healing process, don’t do it as it could be used against you by your employer.

  25. And yet Elliot got 6, games despite the NFL’s own investigator recommending NO suspension. I love the game of football, but hate the NFL. I hate not watching, but the only way to get some changes is for people to stop watching and for them to lose money. That is the only thing they understand. Goodell is a overpaid thief

  26. starfan79 says:
    June 29, 2018 at 7:08 am

    Didn’t josh brown retire before being put on the commissioners exempt list?
    ——————–

    If by retire you mean getting cut by the Giants with zero chance of playing football ever again, then yes.

  27. This is why the NFLPA has to get Article 46 removed from the CBA. There is no rhyme or reason to what they NFL decides to do with punishing players for either proven or unproven accusations. If I am Ezekiel Elliott, I want to know why I got six games when the NFL’s own investigator recommended no suspension and Winston gets 3 game. The NFL publicly called out Elliott, calling him a woman abuser when there was no arrest, no conviction and plenty of doubt of about the accusers credibility, but on the other hand, they wont even release Winston’s suspension letter (last I heard).

  28. badrapp says:
    June 29, 2018 at 8:07 am
    It is all based on Goodell’s Ideal Ass Law; hear the facts, make up some of your own, roll a dice and boom – number of games suspended*

    *if player is in the NYJ or NYG organization just ignore it.

    36 3 Rate This

    ————————-

    Or Baltimore, Indy or Denver. Pitt, too. A coach can intentionally try to trip a player on the opposing team and it’s only a small fine, worth pennies to you and me in the pocketbook.

    Gotta make sure the Pats have as many challengers as possible!

    lmao

  29. Well it is a good thing that the NFL saved all women by giving tom brady a 4 game suspension for allegedly asking ball boys to lower the psi in footballs. If he had harassed/assaulted a woman that would be much less of an issue.

  30. Jon R says:
    June 29, 2018 at 8:00 am
    Goodell’s suspension policy is a joke. When Albert Haynesworth stomped on Andre Gurode’s head while he lay on the ground, Goodell said, “There is absolutely no place in the game, or anywhere else, for the inexcusable action that occurred in yesterday’s Titans-Cowboys game”, and Haynesworth received a 5-game suspension. Last year, when Rob Gronkowski dove forearm-first at a prone Tre’Davious White (and gave him a concussion), Gronk got a mere one-game suspension. Two players (Aqib Talib and Michael Crabtree) got a longer (initial) suspension for a mere slap fight last season.

    34 12 Rate This

    ——————-

    Yeah, and Miami’s Bobby McCain head throttled Amendola (they are now teammates/awkward) and there was no suspension for McCain at all, and that was BEFORE Gronk snapped due to cheating and league wide allowed holding and mauling as a way to try to defend him.

    So, you tell us, hotshot.

    Hint: Goodell cheats.

  31. As I noted in the other post, no they do not. I believe it is how society looks at “groping” versus “assault” or “sexual assault.” Most of us know that they are not different, but society doesn’t look at it like that. Are you aware that the technical definition of assault can include a verbal threat to do something? Bet that wouldn’t get a six game suspension either. It should, but it won’t.

    Problem is society hasn’t caught up yet. The NFL, like a whole lot of other organizations, knew what it meant when it wrote the rule, and they weren’t looking at the literal definitions of these words. They were looking at conventional usage of these words.

    We all know it’s the same thing. But society has to catch up. The president brags about groping and still gets elected.

  32. Brian Nou says:
    June 29, 2018 at 9:55 am

    And yet Elliot got 6, games despite the NFL’s own investigator recommending NO suspension.
    ——————-

    Yes, but there were mitigating circumstances that led to that suspension. Such as, Lisa Friel being a Giants Super Fan, and Elliott playing for a division rival.

    That whole think stunk to high heaven, and she should have been fired.

  33. I think it’s about time we as fans collectively pick one week to avoid watching any NFL football. Make it happen once a year until the owners get rid of Goodell.

  34. Brian Nou says: “And yet Elliot got 6, games despite the NFL’s own investigator recommending NO suspension.”
    ==========================

    Investigators DON’T get to decide suspensions. EVER. That’s the role of management and the lawyers. Investigator’s ONLY job is to gather information.

    And funny you don’t state the opinions of ALL the other investigators (at least 4 others) also on the Elliot case. Pick and choose only what you want to hear?

  35. And Brady only got 4 games for rigging up deflated footballs as a habitual cheater..

  36. JustBlameTrumpOrRussia says:
    June 29, 2018 at 12:41 pm
    And Brady only got 4 games for rigging up deflated footballs as a habitual cheater..

    ——

    Did he also “rig up” Andrew Luck’s footballs? If not, who did?

  37. 4 games for letting air out of a football (on weak proof at best) for a first time offender yet only 3 games for sexual assault after defiant public denials and a history of discipline issues? Ridiculous.

  38. “there is no such standard other than the NFL’s continuing decision to make up suspensions as it goes along.”
    __________________________________________________________________________________________

    That last sentence in this article says it all!

    I am now convinced that if Roger likes your team/owner the suspension will be adjusted…If your name is Kansas City, New Orleans, New England, etc. not so much.

  39. I’m a really big fan of Goodells Wheel of Punishment.

    Like old 45s.. from the racks and stacks its the best on wax.. keep it spinning!

  40. alonestartexan says:
    June 29, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    Winston hasn’t been arrested, he hasn’t been charged, there’s an allegation from two years ago. Why would he be suspended for 6 games?
    —————-

    That’s what Ezekiel Elliott would like to know.

  41. mikejsmith32 says:
    June 29, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    So was Zeke Elliott the only player suspended for six games? Jeez!
    ———————

    Yep, and the two guys that were confirmed abusers, one on tape, and the other the NFL absolutely knew about, got a combined 3 games between them. Of course, Josh Brown played for the Giants, and Lisa Friel wasn’t about to let him get any meaningful discipline.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!