The NFL finally has figured out how to keep off-field distractions from becoming even bigger off-field distractions.
After several years of unnecessarily picking fights that became protracted legal battles (most recently with Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott), the NFL has realized that the best approach to player suspensions is to obtain an agreement from the get-go that the player will accept the punishment without any appeal. That’s what happened with Jameis Winston last year, and that’s most likely what happened with Kareem Hunt today.
Although it’s technically possible that Hunt would have accepted whatever punishment was imposed on him because he was videotaped committing acts of violence against a woman last February in Cleveland, the nothing-to-lose quality of the internal appeal process makes it sensible for any player who is suspended to roll the dice on getting a better deal after the Commissioner’s designee reconsiders the Commissioner’s decision.
So instead of, for example, suspending a guy like Browns running back Kareem Hunt 10 or 12 games and then creating the appearance of lenience or compassion by reducing it to eight on appeal, the NFL likely decided to offer a deal to Hunt: Accept an eight-game suspension, agree not to appeal, and then everyone avoids multiple stories about the inevitable flaws and inequities of the NFL’s investigative and decision-making processes.
It’s smart. It’s long overdue. And it’s likely a technique the NFL will continue to employ with similar cases in the future.