Peter King Moves The Goalposts On The NFL's Favre InvestigationS

"[W]hat seems logical to me," Peter King thinks he thinks, "is the league was not able to connect the sordid cell-phone photos from Favre to Sterger beyond the shadow of a doubt." The NFL leads the league in evidentiary burden!

There is no better bellwether of what the NFL wants you to believe than the Monday Morning Quarterback column, mostly because there is no one more firmly lodged in Roger Goodell's khakis than Peter King. So when King writes this about the Favre investigation, it's worth paying attention:

Nothing's certain yet. But I'm hearing, as I said on NBC Sunday night, that it's likely Brett Favre won't be suspended for his alleged contact with former Jets sideline host Jenn Sterger, and he may not get sanctioned for it at all. The league is expected to announce a decision on Favre either this week or next — I hear commissioner Roger Goodell wants to have the case adjudicated internally before the end of the season, so any discipline the league wants to impose could be doled out before the likely end of Favre's career.

If I'm right, what seems logical to me is the league was not able to connect the sordid cell-phone photos from Favre to Sterger beyond the shadow of a doubt. If that's the case, my interpretation is that barring absolute proof those photos came from Favre, the league would probably not discipline Favre much (if at all) for the awkward phone messages he allegedly left for Sterger while both were in the Jets' employ.

Note the use of "adjudicate," not to mention King's suddenly legalistic gloss on the investigation, as if "beyond the shadow of a doubt" and "absolute proof" were real standards in a league that punishes players for essentially committing bad PR. King — and whoever at the NFL is whispering in his ear — would have you believe the Favre personal-conduct investigation is some sort of legal proceeding, with standards of proof and bagged evidence and grave people debating epistemology at large oaken tables. It's nothing like that, of course. The league suspended Ben Roethlisberger from deep within the shadow of a doubt and then justified it by pointing to "a pattern of behavior," which is really just a mealy-mouthed way of saying "some other stuff we did a shitty job of hushing up."

If the NFL chooses not to punish Favre — and based on what we're hearing, that's where this is headed — the decision will have precious little to do with what the NFL could and couldn't prove; it'll be a PR calculation just like anything else.

Monday Morning Quarterback [SI.com]