Anonymous source gives, anonymous source takes.
On Tuesday, the Associated Press’s Rob Maaddi reported, citing an unnamed source, that the competition would be “more likely“to accept a 6-8 game suspension from Brown’s quarterback” Deshaun Watson and not appeal to Commissioner Roger Goodell.
On Wednesday, an unnamed source dismissed “that scenario” in anonymous comments to Mary Kay Cabot of the… Cleveland Plain Dealer† The source said the league is “not giving in” to its stance that Watson should at least miss the entire 2022 season.
It’s unclear what it all means. My own somewhat informed guess is that it exemplifies the division within 345 Park Avenue regarding the desired outcome of the case. It could also reflect the idea that some in the league wanted their willingness not to appeal a 6-8 game suspension to be made public, and others didn’t.
In any case, the competition NEVER voluntarily waives its collectively agreed-upon rights. It has retained jurisdiction to rule on the appeal against Judge Sue L. Robinson’s decision. Using that power will remind the union that the league has that ability, and that if the union wants the NFL to give up that power, it will only be as a negotiating table.
The AP’s original report felt like an attempt to convince Judge Robinson that her decision will be respected if it hits the 6-8 game run, leaving her to believe her ruling will only escape appeal if she doesn’t punish Watson. not at all. It’s entirely possible that the plan (if it was the plan) was to post a conflicting report so the league can claim it never promised not to appeal a 6-8 run decision contests, if really a ruse meant to trick Judge Robinson into thinking a moderate suspension wouldn’t be challenged.
Then there’s the possibility that Judge Robinson — who no doubt told both sides not to leak about Tuesday’s proceedings (a theory proven by the fact that nothing from Tuesday’s proceedings was leaked) — saw the AP report and made it clear at the start of Wednesday’s session that she was not happy with this development. That’s one of the realities of dealing with someone who has served as a federal judge for 25 years; she will not hesitate to be candid and direct with the parties, if something happens that she does not like or approve of.
And that’s really the bottom line. If anyone from the league believed that low-end Jedi mind tricks will work on Judge Sue L. Robinson, that person was wrong.