It’s been an offseason of discontent. More memorable than most for some very wrong reasons, namely the ongoing saga of Deshaun Watson. The original ‘punishment’ for Watson recommended by Judge Sue Robinson was for six games – cue general outcry and rightly so.
I don’t suspect Judge Robinson recommend six games as that’s what she thought was just. It was because that was what the precedent was and there was no rule written with the annals of the NFL that accounted for what Watson was alledged to have done.
And this is the problem, the NFL reacts to issues – sometimes speedily, often slowly and to their own derision in the media.
Off the field issues isn’t the only area where the NFL is reactive. On the field they are equally so – think numerous issues regarding pass interferance or the ongoing debate about what is and what isn’t a catch, something I thought we all learnt at childhood!
Whenever there’s a controversy, the NFL circus is drawn into debate and conjecture (usually via the media and social platforms) and eventually the NFL reacts to the point (what was and wasn’t a legal hit on the quarterback is another recent example) with a resolution which helps the issue sibside, for a while until it comes back after a slightly different version of the original issue!
I think there’s two areas where the NFL could lead instead of be led:
- The competition committee is a decent enough way of thinking up and adapting rule changes but I’d like to see that coupled with a team of ex-players, coaches and officials think of every possible situation which could cause controversy and adapt proposed rule changes based on their thoughts
- The Personal Conduct Policy needs to be aligned with just punishments. This should be aligned with the NFLPA so when an offence is caused the NFL can act swiftly and accordingly.
Unfortnately on that second point, life will continue to astound us all as to what some NFL players get up to on their own time (thankfully a minority). The NFL and NFLPA have to accept that the punishments dealt out are subject to a public reaction, players are role models and standards need to be set. So, go ahead and set them.