Nearly four years ago, the NFL responded to its disastrous handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case by beefing up the Personal Conduct Policy, and by huffing and puffing about a new six-game baseline suspension for any player who is found to have committed similar offenses. On multiple occasions since then, the NFL has failed to impose a six-game suspension for a player who has committed similar offenses, and the league has failed/refused to explain the reason(s) for the departure from the six-game benchmark.
Here’s the key language: “With regard to violations of the Personal Conduct Policy that involve: (i) criminal assault or battery (felony); (ii) domestic violence, dating violence, child abuse and other forms of family violence; or (iii) sexual assault involving physical force or committed against someone incapable of giving consent, a first offense will subject the offender to a baseline suspension without pay of six games, with consideration given to any aggravating or mitigating factors.”
It’s possible that the NFL concluded that Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston‘s actions did not constitute “sexual assault involving physical force.” Unless the league specifically explains it that way, it’s impossible to know for sure. (It’s also odd that the NFL wouldn’t simply make all sexual assaults subject to a six-game suspension, without requiring physical force or an assault “committed against someone incapable of giving consent.”)
The NFL possibly decided that “mitigating factors” justified a reduction from six games to three, like they initially did when…