Yesterday I mentioned the reports that the NFL is looking to suspend Deshaun Watson for the entire season, regardless of the outcome of the civil cases against him. Reports like this one:
Bear in mind that none of what I'm about to say should be taken as support for Watson. On the contrary. I truly believe that he's been a serial creep who, at the very least, weirded out dozens of women trying to earn a buck in the noble profession of massage therapist and wanted no part of touching his …. well, parts. And at worst, he's a predator who should be considered for a court-ordered GPS ankle bracelet. But like all suspected creeps, he deserves due process.
Right now Watson's disciplinary hearing is in in arbitration, being heard by retired federal judge Sue Robinson. But, thanks to the utterly unique and bizarre system of justice in the NFL, whatever happens, the league can appeal her ruling. And leave the matter to the fair, unbiased, Solomon-like wisdom of Roger Goodell to decide. So for the players, the appeal process is like if the Jedi didn't like what the Empire is doing, and their only choice was to put themselves at the mercy of Emperor Palpatine. After he dissolved the Senate. In fact, the very bylaw that gives Commissioner Sidious this absolute power is Article 46, which sounds eerily like Order 66:
And usually has the same result:
Which makes the report I'm building up to all the weirder:
We have no reason to doubt the veracity of this reporting. Let's trust that it was, in fact, leaked to this NFL writer from the AP. The question is why? Since Ginger Satan's rulings are absolute, and his word is law, it begs the question why the league would care about the decision of a puny former federal judge and agreed-upon arbitrator? So why even bother leaking this?
I'll credit Pro Football Talk for making sense of the strategy at work here. Because it seems Der Kommissar can't veto any ruling Robinson makes. If she says Watson doesn't have to serve any suspension whatsoever, the NFL can't appeal it. So the case never makes it to the sacrificial altar that is Goodell's desk.
Source - By making Judge Robinson believe that the league wouldn’t appeal her decision if it lands in the range of 6-8 games, perhaps she’d be less inclined to find that Watson shouldn’t be disciplined at all, since that’s otherwise the only want to keep the Commissioner from imposing the punishment that the league currently wants. By leaking this to the AP after the first day of the hearings, the league quite possibly is using the media to negotiate with Judge Robinson for moderate discipline, with a wink-nod that her decision wouldn’t be disturbed if it lands in the supposedly preferred range. …
No, it looks and feels like an effort to get Judge Robinson to think that her ruling will be safe, in order to minimize any temptation to slam the door on the Commissioner’s appellate jurisdiction by finding that Watson shouldn’t be punished at all.
Now we're talking. This make perfect sense. The NFL times this leak in the middle of the hearings. Knowing that the judge will see it, hoping she takes it as a sign that if she splits the disciplinary baby here, the league will leave it at that.
And the truly disturbing thing is that this is by design. Meaning there are grown ups in business attire who sit around conference room tables on Park Avenue and brainstorm horseshit like this. How they can influence an arbitrator to make a decision, just so the boss will get to make a later decision that will make him look like a no-nonsense tough guy and issue a carefully worded statement about protecting the shield. And sell more officially licensed pink merchandise in October. In other words, to do the opposite of what he did to Ray Rice, when he didn't know how to play the PR game as well as he does now.
To repeat, in no way am I defending Deshaun Watson's obvious criminal perviness in all this. I shall die on no hill for him whatsoever. I'm just reminding everybody once again that when you cheer on Goodell as he rules over a player because you don't like that player, it's a matter of time before he's pulling the same move on one of your own. Absolute power - and I can't stress this enough - corrupts absolutely.