When word first emerged of a potential three-game suspension for Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston coupled with a report that Winston likely won’t appeal, it felt like the result of a negotiated compromise. And if it was indeed the product of plea bargain versus the usual unrelenting iron fist of NFL justice, the deal possibly extended to the manner in which the suspension would be communicated.
Last August, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott received a six-page letter chronicling his alleged misdeeds, and it was quickly made available to the media. As part of the league’s P.R. blitz, one of the members of the league’s external expert advisory panel was made available on a conference call to discuss the allegations and the investigation.
Two years ago, he was a prize free agent addition, signing a five-year, $32.5 million contract.
But he didn’t play at all his first season in Tampa because of back problems, and was recovering from a leg injury suffered near the end of last season
The 29-year-old was scheduled to make $6.5 million this season.
In Brown’s case, the league defended the lack of transparency in reducing the suspension by pointing to the privacy rights of the victim. In Winston’s case, there should be no similar concern. The victim made a report to her employer and then, inspired by the #MeToo movement, she told her story to the media. If the NFL believes that the conduct generally requires a six-game suspension but that mitigating factors require it to be cut in half, the league shouldn’t keep it secret.