The NFL is going through unprecedented times and nothing is looking good right now and they still haven’t dealt with Stephen Ross, yet.
Lost behind the Deshaun Watson investigation and the national attention that has been on a congressional hearing that has led to Daniel Snyder taking up anchor off the coast of France in his superyacht is Stephen Ross.
It needs to be said, it hasn’t been resolved, it hasn’t been swept under a rug, and it hasn’t been summarily dismissed with a wave of the hand. No, when the NFL is done with Watson, when they are done with Snyder, they will deal with Ross and it may, by the time it rolls around be nothing more than dismissal with a wave of the hand.
On Tuesday, the NFL and the representatives for Deshaun Watson will begin the final push toward the resolution of his off-field issues. A report last night indicated that the NFL is pushing for an indefinite suspension that includes no less than one year. The NFL no longer has the final say in these matters but that is not the case against owners.
Watson’s problems are not the same as Daniel Snyder’s but there is a growing movement toward holding NFL owners as accountable as they do their players. If we want to be just, the owners should be held to a much higher and stricter standard. The “good-old-boys” club has to come with a higher ceiling.
Robert Kraft was never held accountable for his team’s cheating penalties. The team itself was fined but Kraft wasn’t held responsible by the league. When the allegations of his involvement in a South Florida sting operation surrounding massage parlors were made public, Kraft’s lawyers flew out of the hive and destroyed the case. The NFL? They did nothing.
In D.C., Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder is giving a big backhanded middle finger to Congress and it seems that no matter what happens with the hearing, the NFL is going to be forced to do something about Snyder but to what degree? Will he be forced to sell the team? Maybe, especially if they did in fact low-report their earnings to strip other owners of potential earned money.
Let us be honest here. The allegations against Ross are important and shouldn’t be dismissed but they do pale in comparison to what the NFL is dealing with regarding Watson and Snyder. Watson could miss an entire season, and Snyder could face federal fines and be forced to sell the team. Something that we originally thought might be the case with Ross. Now, it hardly seems as important.
The NFL is attacking Watson’s situation. We don’t know how they will take on Snyder’s. When that is over, Roger Goodell will take aim at preserving “game integrity”. That is where Ross falls. Did he offer money to lose games? Did he fire Brian Flores because he refused? Is there proof that he conspired with or tampered with Tom Brady? Or is this all non-provable?
In February, things looked really bad for the Miami Dolphins owner. Then more information came to light about what was really going on inside the Miami offices. It became a he-said/she-said scenario with both sides clinging to the reality of thought that they were right and the other is wrong.
For Flores, it’s a lawsuit. Filed and it will not likely be brushed away and the NFL may have no option but to wait until the case plays out in a court of law but at that same time, it doesn’t benefit the league by letting it go to court because the Dolphins are not the only team implicated. For Ross, it is allegations that the NFL will investigate, then they will try to wash their hands.
The question is how much will their decisions on Watson and Snyder play into their decision on Ross? Is it comparable? Will a strong penalization of Watson empower the league to go after Snyder just as hard if not harder? If the league goes hard after Snyder will that empower them to do the same to Ross or will they view Ross’ situation differently and potentially less harshly?
At worst, the Dolphins will lose draft capital and Ross will face league fines. He likely won’t lose the team as some initially thought he might. Best case scenario may very well be the same thing.
Right now, we don’t know and we may not know for quite a long time but what happens with Watson and Snyder could affect the league’s decision on Ross at some point but which way it will go is anyone’s guess.