Unpopular Opinion: The NFL got the Willie Gay suspension right

KC Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay was suspended for four games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy and the NFL got it right.

Late Monday afternoon, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay was suspended four games due to violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. The January 2022 arrest stemmed from an altercation between Gay and the mother of his child, which resulted in property damage of less than $1,000.

In June of this year, Willie Gay and his legal team made a deal with prosecutors to enter a diversion program and avoid jail time. This deal involved him having mental health counseling, getting drug tested in addition to the NFL’s testing; paying fines, fees, and restitution; and staying out of trouble for 12 months.

Some in Chiefs Kingdom were strongly opposed to this punishment for a variety of reasons ranging from its timing to its severity given the alleged offenses.

You can’t tell me that Willie Gay’s suspension ending DIRECTLY after the Bills game is anything short of foul play

Willie Gay @WillieG___ is suspended for 4 weeks. After two weeks of playing. For a misdemeanor case settled on July 21. His suspension will overlap the Bills game. Tell me the #NFL has an agenda without telling me the NFL has an agenda. 🙄🙄 #ChiefsKingdom

— Stephanie Lawton (@Steph_Lawton09) September 19, 2022

There are perfectly reasonable gripes with this suspension, such as the discipline being announced in the middle of the season and not in the offseason despite being eight months removed from the night of his arrest. Relating to Deshaun Watson’s 11-game suspension for over 20 sexual assault allegations, there are questions as to whether what Gay was accused of is ~36% as bad as what Watson sued for.

However, I think the NFL got the suspension right in this case. This may be uncomfortable for some in Chiefs Kingdom to hear but it may be a necessary one. Shortly after Willie Gay’s arrest, it was reported that the woman accused him of pushing her and threatening to slap and/or hit her before and feared for her safety.

The NFL got this correct because her account alone makes it a domestic violence issue and Gay’s refusal to fight the charges/suspension seems to differentiate this from what we saw from, say, the Tyreek Hill saga in 2019 where the player was immediately pushing back against the narrative playing out on social media and in the news.  The NFL likely conducted their own investigation, as they do with the majority of non-football-related suspensions, and they have (and have not) suspended players in the past as a result of their investigations.

There are parts to this story that don’t make much sense today, such as the timing of the suspension and the news that Gay will not appeal it. The latter could be explained if a “deal” was made between the NFL and Gay. Instead of the standard six games for DV-related offenses, the NFL could have potentially reduced the ban to four games or ensured the details of the investigation remained private. They could have even delayed the start of the suspension in exchange for accepting the punishment without an appeal. All of this is conjecture, but there are questions left unanswered for fans at this stage.

In the end, although I understand the frustration from Chiefs Kingdom, the four-game suspension is the right outcome. We can debate whether the length of the suspension is appropriate, or if a suspension was warranted at all, but the bottom line is that Gay deserves to be suspended in some form because of what took place last January.

This may sound counterintuitive coming from a fan of the Chiefs but I won’t let my fandom override my disdain for domestic violence. I have a strong suspicion that a lot of the Chiefs fans defending Gay would not be opposed to a similar suspension to a player on the Broncos or Raiders. Domestic violence of all kinds needs to be taken seriously by the NFL and other leagues. Pro athletes should be held to a high standard as, for better or for worse, many of them are idols/heroes to many young people in this country.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still a diehard fan of the Chiefs, and that will never change. I also don’t hold the belief that Willie Gay should be cut from the team and banished from the NFL. I am 100% rooting for his growth as a person. Once his punishment is over, he should absolutely be given a second chance and have every opportunity to become a more productive member of society as a member of the team. Once October 17th rolls around, when Gay is officially reinstated, this will all be in the past and everyone will now be focused on winning Super Bowl LVII.

This content was originally published here.

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