I hate the idea of this 18 month "Oh you've been a good boy, we'll clean your slate." nonsense.
In my opinion, to say that it shouldn't factor is bologna.
But previous history here wasn't a "non-factor." If Neal had no previous history at all, I doubt he gets 5 games. If you think about it, 5 games is actually quite a bit for an incident that didn't result in any injury. I have no idea on the stats, but I'd guess there would be very few suspensions of greater than 5 games that had no injuries involved.