By rule, the NFL’a appeal of the Deshaun Watson suspension to the NFL will be handled by Commissioner Roger Goodell “or his designee.” The Commissioner has not yet made an announcement as to whether he or someone else will handle the matter.
It’s not clear when a decision will be made. PFT sent an email to a league spokesman early Thursday as to the timing of the announcement, but there has been no response yet.
So until it’s known what Goodell will do, it’s fair to ask whether he’ll choose to handle it himself.
He clearly has the power to do it. And he would have the incentive to do it, in the event that he’s not willing to trust that his designee would impose the punishment the league (Goodell) wants.
And the league clearly wants a one-year suspension. That request was made to Judge Sue L. Robinson. It was reiterated as part of the appeal. And who ultimately makes these decisions for the league? It would be the man whose name appears on every NFL football.
So maybe Goodell will retain the authority to make the decision. If he does, that’s bad news for Watson. In 2014, Goodell faced credible calls for his job given the reality that he was too lenient in his two-game suspension of former Ravens running back Ray Rice. In 2017, Goodell showed that he’ll never be accused of that again, in suspending Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott — even though he was never arrested, charged, or even sued.
This time, the league already has been criticized for the six-game suspension that the league didn’t even impose. Under the Personal Conduct Policy, the facts as found by Judge Robinson become binding on the appeal. And she found enough facts to allow Goodell to drop the hammer.
To best ensure that the hammer is dropped the way Goodell wants it to be, maybe he should be the one to drop the hammer himself.