When Major League Baseball suspended Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer for two full seasons based on allegations of off-field sexual misconduct, the harsh punishment had some wondering if it would prompt the NFL to issue a suspension yet again. more significant to Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson than the six-to-eight game ban many league circles expected.
Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealership Watson’s attorney Rusty Hardin recently asked if Bauer’s suspension will affect Watson’s discipline.
Hardin said he hopes Bauer’s suspension won’t impact Watson.
“I’ll try to be optimistic and say it won’t have any effect,” Hardin said. “Because it has no logical connection.”
Logic doesn’t matter, though. What matters is public relations The entire apparatus of personal conduct policy stems from public relations considerations.
So if baseball suspends Bauer for two years and there’s no real outcry over the severity of the penalty (and there hasn’t been), NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell could indeed be swayed to apply a more severe sanction to Watson. Even though the cases are different and the allegations are different and the sports are different, Bauer’s two-year suspension sets a new bar. Anything the NFL does to Watson will necessarily be judged against that standard.
Without Bauer’s two-year suspension, a penalty from Watson in the range of six or eight games creates an impression. After Bauer, six or eight games for Watson creates a completely different vibe.
Ultimately, Goodell will try to balance the criticism for not hanging Watson enough against the critics for being too harsh. Remember, it was Goodell’s failure to be tough enough on Ray Rice that nearly brought Goodell down in 2014.
This is where the logic comes in. Goodell, knowing full well the fallout of a perception that he hasn’t gone far enough with Rice, becomes more likely to err on the side of going too far with Watson.
It’s not about right or wrong. It is not a question of justice or fairness. It is not a question of law or legality. It’s about the reaction the league anticipates from perhaps being too lenient to perhaps being too strict.
And, yes, the Bauer suspension becomes a big factor in determining the right punishment for Watson.