So why would Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston accept a three-game punishment and not exercise his appeal rights? There’s one simple and obvious explanation for it.
The NFL and Winston may have struck a deal.
It’s was for both sides to justify the move. The NFL, in lieu of suspending him the baseline of six games (plus a possible enhancement for his pre-NFL alleged misbehavior), offers half instead. Winston doesn’t launch an appeal that, while ultimately futile, possibly would expose yet another Park Avenue Keystone Cops investigation and/or kangaroo court process.
Here’s a fact that further points to a bargain possibly being brokered: Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports that “Winston’s suspension could be increased if he fails to meet certain undisclosed requirements expected to be imposed by the NFL.” That feels like the kind of term that would be added to a negotiated compromise aimed at wrapping things up easily, while also making it even easier to whack him with another penalty if he runs afoul of the NFL’s expectations.
While the league has steadfastly refused to strike deals after suspensions are imposed, perhaps the league has learned that much embarrassment has resulted from cases like Tom Brady’s and Ezekiel Elliott’s. So instead of welcoming another avoidable P.R. crisis, the league sends its message and Winston catches a break.