Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson and the NFL are headed straight for chaos.
That’s because, on Wednesday, it was reported that the NFL plans to appeal Watson’s suspension directly to the league office.
Now, the League will take its case to … itself.
And while Commissioner Roger Goodell might have ultimate authority on a suspension, he’s apparently stepping aside to designate someone else in the front office to hear and handle the appeal.
And that “someone else” might be a familiar name to Browns fans.
According to Mike Florio of NBC, Commissioner Goodell might tab Condoleeza Rice to handle the appeal:
“A separate source with knowledge of the process suggested that the designee for the appeal possibly will be Condolleezza Rice, who is slated to officially become a part owner of the Broncos next week. Again, she wouldn’t be truly independent; she’s about to become an equity holder in one of the league’s teams. Her reputation, however, would make it easier for the league to sell to media and fans the possibility that she will be able to set aside other interests and make the right decision.”
A few things here.
One, as Florio points out, Rice is set to become part owner of the Denver Broncos.
So while NFL Disciplinary Officer Sue Robinson might have been “independent,” Rice is far from it.
But that’s par for the course, according to Florio:
“Even if the league calls the person ‘independent,’ they really aren’t. They’ll have some sort of hope for an ongoing business relationship with the league, and that will influence the decision-making process.”
Two, Rice is a diehard football fan.
Not just that, a diehard Cleveland Browns football fan.
Read that again.
It would be funny if the appeal goes into the season, Deshaun Watson earns his minimal salary, and then the suspension costs him the bigger $$ https://t.co/Q7WLSePomu
— Jason Greenbaum (@JWGreenbaum) August 3, 2022
I guess that means that between Rice’s loyalty to the NFL and her undying fandom, her interests balance out.
Rice does have an extensive history in sports.
Rice was part of the initial College Football Selection Committee that replaced the BCS Ranking system back in 2013.
She also apparently got a look to be the Browns’ new head coach in 2018, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
For the NFL’s part, it had to appeal this suspension.
This is an unparalleled level of awful for professional football.
These takes that the NFL is “bowing to public pressure” to seek this appeal are complete nonsense. The NFL always wanted a one-year suspension.
And because the new CBA, agreed to by the NFLPA, gives Goodell all the appellate power, Watson won’t take a snap until Sept. 2023. https://t.co/XO1aPzPmwJ
— Don Van Natta Jr. (@DVNJr) August 4, 2022
And to top it all off, a bevy of teams that didn’t care and still tried moving heaven and earth to land Watson.
That last part is a serious indictment to the league; that whatever punishment came Watson’s way was outweighed by the talent he possesses.
The league is caught scrambling to reset.
The terms of the CBA are clear — the Commissioner’s, or one that they delegate, say on an appeal is “full, final, and complete.”
After years of terrible precedence, this is the move the NFL didn’t choose.
It was one they had to make.