After Wednesday's report from ESPN Radio’s Jeff Cameron which stated Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is bracing for suspension, there have been major points being missed and not addressed properly. So without going too much into details since the NFL has yet to make an official ruling, let’s just talk about what has circulated in the comments of this very site as well as on social media.
The Personal Conduct Policy, Old and New
People have been tossing the idea around that since the incident technically happened during the previous conduct policy, the decision to suspend Winston would have to be ruled based off of that previous policy that may have not mentioned any failure to report.
That is not accurate.
Here is the previous policy, directed to by a contact within the league offices:
Reporting of Incidents – The League must be advised promptly of any incident that may be a violation of this policy, and particularly when any conduct results in an arrest or other criminal charge. Players and club employees must report any such incident to the club, which must then report it to NFL Security. Failure to report an incident will constitute conduct detrimental and will be taken into consideration in making disciplinary determination under this policy. Clubs are also required to report incidents that come to their attention.
Reporting – Clubs and players are obligated to promptly report any matter that comes to their attention (through, for example, victim or witness reports, law enforcement, or media reports) that may constitute a violation of this Policy. Clubs are expected to educate their employees on this obligation to report. Club reports should be made to NFL Security or Adolpho Birch of the Management Council legal staff. Questions about whether an incident triggers a reporting obligation should be directed to Adolpho Birch or Lisa Friel of the league office. Failure to report an incident will be grounds for disciplinary action. This obligation to report is broader than simply reporting an arrest; it requires reporting to the league any incident that comes to the club’s or player’s attention which, if the allegations were true, would constitute a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy.
Both policies state a failure to report anything will result in disciplinary action from the league with different word usage. So if the league sees the need to suspend him, it would be because he did not inform the team or the NFL about the incident.
This now brings us to another topic of confusion: Winston will be suspended for violating the personal conduct and not for failing to report the incident.
That can be true. However, it’s a technicality on the verbiage whenever they hand down the suspension. Can he be suspended for failing to report the incident? Absolutely. Then why are people saying it won’t be because of that but rather it’ll be for violating the personal conduct policy? The failure to report is within the personal conduct policy. So, in essence, for failing to report the incident Winston violated the personal conduct policy.
Back to the report from Cameron, if true, he is correct in his phrasing. He didn’t suggest it will be up to three games, but stated that the thought from Winston's camp is it could be a one to three game suspension. Also, by stating it would be for failing to report the incident, Cameron was also accurate.
In all, we’ve always felt the shield would eventually suspend the Bucs former first overall pick. The question was always when they would do so. It appears we’re in the final two minutes of regulation and the league has the ball, doing whatever they want because they can.