Falcons won’t face Deshaun Watson, suspension highlights NFL hypocrisy

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The NFL’s disciplinary officer Sue Robinson has handed down her suspension for Deshaun Watson, highlighting the league’s hypocrisy. The quarterback that Atlanta infamously pursued earlier this offseason was informed he’d miss the first six weeks of the 2022 season, which means the Falcons won’t face Watson during the team’s Week 4 matchup against the Browns.

This less-than-fair suspension has created an eruption of outrage given Calvin Ridley‘s suspension. The NFL came down with a swift and harsh punishment for his gambling fiasco — a one-year suspension — where he placed a couple of wagers on the Falcons to win. 

Then, the focus had turned to Watson, who was almost traded to the Falcons before the Browns gave him an absurd record-breaking contract. Astonishingly, an alleged serial sexual assaulter will be suspended for nearly half the games as Ridley, who placed several minor bets — by a millionaire’s standards — on his own team to win while he was away from them.

The league specifically stated Ridley’s punishment is for “at least a year,” which means he’ll have to apply to be reinstated before he can play again. And it really does highlight where the league’s priorities lie.

It just goes to show where the league’s priorities lie, and it’s not with the victims of sexual and physical assault. The NFL has long been the poster child of less-than-reasonable punishments for players accused of domestic violence, but god forbid a player gambles. Moreover, Roger Goodell has been notoriously shady in dealing with the CTE dilemma of former players.

The NFL isn’t going to lessen the punishment handed down to Ridley without the NFLPA stepping in, which they’ve shown no inclination to do. The league wants to make an example of Ridley so that no player even thinks about wagering on professional football. However, the NFLPA will do all they can to lessen the suspension of Watson because of the light punishments given in similar situations to owners like Robert Kraft, etc.

The Falcons likely won’t welcome Ridley back in 2023 because this new regime seems like they have a zero-tolerance policy on these sorts of situations as they try to establish a new culture in Atlanta. It’s an unfortunate situation regarding Ridley’s suspension. Still, the league will take the PR nightmare associated with Deshaun Watson’s less-than-fair suspension over a player gambling on games to “protect the shield.”

Robinson is considered an unbiased third party, so fans shouldn’t bash her; however, it is just following the precedent set by the NFL from past punishments in similar cases. The league will have a chance to appeal the decision, which fans can expect because it would be a PR nightmare if they didn’t after pushing for a year-long suspension prior to Robinson’s ruling.

The Falcons still haven’t exactly addressed the interest in Watson or what his suspension means for Ridley, noting that it’s a ‘league matter.’ Unfortunately, this is just the way of the NFL world; it’s disheartening.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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