Well the NFL did it. The hue & cry from the public that 6 games wasn’t enough punishment has pushed the "brand" into a mess. Now they have essentially repudiated their commitment to the CBA and are back into the hated position of judge and executioner for all discipline.
They will impose a minimum 1 year indefinite suspension, a fine and required "training". The NFLPA & Watson will counter with a legal challenge. That will involve a stay on the punishment, depositions, court dates, testimony and judgements.
We will have to live with the distraction for a long time.
Further the judge will have no trust in the NFL as a participant for future infractions. The NFLPA will continue to hate and despise the "brand’s" handling of issues. The future discipline judgements will continue to be as haphazard and inconsistent as the past.
I’ve never been comfortable with the Watson deal (see my fanpost of 13 March) but I do recognize that there are many unknowns to the case that fans and media have not been privileged to know.
Granted, 24 plus accusations is very, very smelly. However in this country (in the past anyway) we are innocent until proven guilty.
The media has continued to beat the drum that Watson has not spoken of remorse. I doubt that any lawyer would recommend publicly expressing remorse (admitting guilt?) while you are battling legal actions.
Busby has some previous connection with the McNair family and the court cases all came up after Watson demanded a trade following the destruction of the Texan’s roster under O’Brien?
The complaints were so lacking that 2 District Attorneys were only willing to bring 10 of the original 22 to Grand Juries as criminal complaints…and none resulted in indictments. I’ve always been told that a DA can get a Grand Jury to indict a "ham sandwich"?
The complaints were so lacking that the NFL was only willing to show 5 during the hearings.
The judge did her assessment based on the CBA and found that there was substantial evidence that Watson’s behavior was in violation of the NFL’s personal behavior standard….but did not rise to the level of the more serious force/assault language in the CBA.
The NFL’s adjudication of previous issues has been so inconsistent that Judge Robinson could determine no clear precedent for punishment. Owners have received no punishment, violent attacks (Rice) yielded 2 games modified to 8 game suspensions, rape accusations dropped when the violated refused to press charges (no announced settlement) yielded 6 modified to 4 game suspensions….etc.
With all of that the Judge made a 6 game suspension recommendation. The uninformed media and the public cried out for more. I suspect that the Judge saw this as the first step to providing a clear and correct precedent for future issues. When the next player beats up a partner there is room for a more significant punishment. The next rape accusation has room for a more significant punishment. Holding the owners to a "higher standard" allows for a more significant punishment.
As the NFL is about to go to a full year indefinite suspension there will not be much room for the future for anything more significant. Assault, rape, burglery and other serious crimes with legal conseqences will have to be career ending issues. Remember, Watson is unchallenged by any arrest or legal jeopardy in this case, regardless of the smelly nature of his behavior.
So what should they have done? They should have declared their determination to honor the terms of the CBA. They should have publicly regretted the Judge’s call for 6 games instead of a more substantial number but, admitted that the inconsistent past decisions made her judgment more difficult. They should have reaffirmed that having an independent discipline official provides a more fair and equitable treatment of all NFL participants. They could have hung the outcry on Judge Robinson and waited it out for a couple of months.
I worked my entire career in leadership positions and the most important thing that I discovered was the you need to be fair and consistent with your leadership. There is no way to hide or rationalize unfair and inconsistent leadership. You must always consider all aspects of the behavior and make rational judgements on the facts. Absolute schedules of punishment seldom fit the exact nature of the offense and so you need to have some flexibility. It is imperative that you not favor your senior people to the point of no accountability. It is equally imperative that you don’t target your "uppity" employees and try to use them as examples.
As a long time follower of the NFL I think that Goodell’s regime has little to no trust as a leadership group. Rozelle and Tagliabue were both much more highly trusted by the fans and the players. Goodell has always appeared to be a complete puppet of the owners and makes every determination as if it is a stand alone issue with no downstream ramifications.
I know that readers of this might think that I’m just expressing sour grapes that we might lose our QB for the year. I do regret that this will not be the season that we break through with a Super Bowl appearance. However our roster is still good and young. If Watson misses this season his contract doesn’t toll and we still get him for 5 years after the suspension. Our ceiling this year might now be an 8-9 record and Texans will get a better draft choice next year. It will not be as exciting as we hoped.
Remember that I’ve been a fan for a very long time and I can remember a not to distant past when an 8-9 record was a fanciful dream. I’ve lived through 2015-2017 (4-44).
I wouldn’t have made the Watson move…but, would we have done better riding with Baker for his fifth season? Will there be QBs to draft that will be as skilled as Watson in the 2023 draft? Will there be QBs of his quality available to sign or trade for in 2023? To extend Baker, if he did well in 2022, would have been almost as costly as signing Watson. If it was such a terrible move why were we in a bidding environment with multiple other teams?
I’m not convinced that the Watson trade wasn’t a great move…I’m actually proud of AB & Haslam that they are so determined to bring us a winner that they took on the risk. We deserve a winner and Haslam putting up that amount of guaranteed money shows his dedication to that goal. I can now forgive him for the Lombardi/Farmer/Hue/Chud/Kitchen moves of foolishness.