Commissioner Roger Goodell has personal handling authority Deshaun Watson appeal hearing. He won’t sport it.
Goodell will not hear Watson’s appeal, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. He will refer the matter to someone outside the league office.
We don’t know what it is. A decent guess would be Mary Jo White, given that she recently conducted various “independent investigations” into the NFL, and given that she does a very good job of giving her client what she wants.
Regardless of the name of the specific person who was left with Watson’s appeal, getting more work like this requires giving the customer what they want. Even if the league calls a person “independent,” they really aren’t. They will have some hope of an ongoing business relationship with the league, which will influence the decision-making process.
A separate source with knowledge of the process suggested that the appellate nominee could be Condolleezza Rice, who will officially become the owner of the Broncos next week. Again, she would not be truly independent; she is about to become the owner of shares in one of the league’s teams. But her reputation would make it easier for the league to sell the media and fans on the possibility that she can reject other interests and make the right decision.
Incidentally, Rice is an avowed Browns fan. Recently Rice spoke about the disciplinary processpromoting the importance of openness but recognizing the seriousness of the matter.