The NFL is appealing a disciplinary officer’s suspension Cleveland Browns midfielder Deshaun Watson Because six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policygrants Commissioner Roger Goodell or his designee the authority to impose heavier penalties.
Former federal judge Sue L. Robinson delivered his verdict Monday after Watson was accused by two dozen women in Texas of sexual misconduct while receiving massage treatments while he played for Houston Texas.
In his 16-page report, Robinson described Watson’s conduct as “more serious than any conduct prior to the NFL’s review.”
Robinson’s punishment – in her first case since being co-appointed by the league and the NFL Players Association – does not match the indefinite suspension of at least one year sought by the league.
So the NFL on Wednesday exercised its right of appeal, under the collective bargaining agreement.
The players’ union is responsible for responding in writing through Friday. Unions could challenge the appeal ruling in federal court, setting the stage for a protracted battle.
This is the first time since the new collective bargaining agreement was signed in 2020, the league and the NFLPA turned to a jointly appointed disciplinary officer to identify violations of the individual conduct policy. . In the past, Goodell has served as judge and jury to hand out punishments to players.
By appealing, the NFL is handing that power back to Goodell, who can choose another person to apply any penalty.
A federation official told the Associated Press before Watson’s three-day disciplinary hearing ended in June that the NFL wanted to avoid an appeal.
But the tournament went off with one of the backlash from some fans. Other factors include Watson’s lack of remorse, which Robinson noted in her report.
The NFL argued for an unprecedented penalty and wanted to fine Watson at least $5 million, a person familiar with the discussions told the AP on condition of anonymity because the hearing is private.
Watson, who played four seasons with Texas before sitting out last season and then being transferred to Cleveland in March, recently settled 23 of 24 lawsuits brought by women who filed allegations of harassment or assault. sex during massage therapy in 2020 and 2021. Two large juries in Texas have refused to indict Watson over criminal complaints brought by 10 women.
She declined to suspend Watson for a full year based on current league precedents and policies. But Robinson concluded that a longer suspension could have been justified if it had been outlined in the individual conduct policy.
“While it may be entirely appropriate for players to be more disciplined for non-violent sexual behavior, I do not believe it is appropriate to do so without notice of unusual change, This position has implications for the NFL and its players,” Robinson wrote in her post reporting.
Watson has continued to practice with the Browns pending the resolution of his case, which has raised questions about the federation’s handling of player behavior off the pitch, inconsistencies in its application policy individual treatment and their general support for women.
The Browns are also in limbo, with no idea when or if Watson will be able to compete this season.
Cleveland traded three first-round picks for Houston to take the Pro Bowl QB three times and signed him to a five-year, $230 million contract.
Watson will lose only $345,000 if the suspension does not change because his base salary this season is $ 1,035 million.
Associated Press report.
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