Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay Jr. is currently serving a four-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. The sanction was actually reached via a settlement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association in another example of the revised disciplinary process the league recently undertook.
In January, police arrested Gay for criminal damages under $1,000 following an argument with the mother of his child. The offense constituted a domestic violence offence. Gay pleaded not guilty to the charge, and in June court records show a deal was reached with prosecutors in which he participated in a diversion program.
According to sources, the NFL wanted the maximum six-game suspension for Gay while the union pushed for a lighter sentence around two games. The case was to be heard by retired judge Sue L. Robinson, who was jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA as disciplinary officer and serves a two-year term.
Gay decided to settle with the league for four games before reaching Robinson.
Prior to the 2020 collective bargaining agreement, penalties for violations of the league’s personal conduct policy were “in accordance with the power of the commissioner … to deal with and sanction conduct detrimental to the league.” With the new collective agreement, the disciplinary officer makes the initial decision on punishment unless a settlement is reached.
Robinson was also the disciplinary officer for the Deshaun Watson case. Watson and the league did not settle before Robinson heard her case, and citing precedent, she handed down the maximum sentence of six games for her alleged sexual misconduct involving massage therapists. The NFL appealed the decision, and before Roger Goodell’s appointee could rule on the appeal, Watson reached a settlement agreement that included an 11-game suspension, a $5 million fine, and a mandatory behavioral treatment.
Gay’s suspension began in Week 3 and he can play again in Week 7 against the 49ers.