Deshaun Watson could be suspended for the entire season if the NFL gets its way after appeal his six-game discipline imposed by Sue L. Robinson. (ESPN.com)
NFL files appeal of Deshaun Watson six-game suspension
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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is a Cleveland Browns analyst for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland.
Deshaun Watson had misfires and a botched snap during a listless Browns practice in shells on Wednesday.
And then he learned the NFL has decided to appeal his seemingly-light six-game suspension for multiple violations of the league’s personal conduct policy.
The Browns and Watson learned of the NFL’s intention shortly after the horn blew to end the 1 hour, 40-minute practice on a hot, steamy day of camp. The club and Watson had no comment.
Less than an hour later, multiple outlets reported the league will seek an indefinite suspension of at least one year.
That was the original recommendation of the NFL team of former sex crimes prosecutors who investigated the claims of 24 female massage therapists who sued Watson for sexual misconduct over a 15-month period through the winter of 2021.
There were reports that the NFL sought an 11th-hour settlement with Watson for a 12-game suspension and $8 million fine. He and his legal team rejected it, and now the NFL is going for the throat – seeking longer games in addition to a possible big fine.
Under the new disciplinary process jointly agreed to by the NFL and the union, discipline officer Sue L. Robinson rendered a verdict of six games suspension after concluding Watson violated three provisions of the conduct policy. She termed Watson’s conduct “predatory” and “more egregious” than any ever reviewed by the NFL.
Robinson ruled, however, that she was limited in her discipline by previous NFL cases. She cited three games as the standard for “non-violent sexual assault” violations. She doubled it to six because of aggravating factors, such as “his lack of expressed remorse” and for his tardy notice to the NFL of the first lawsuit filed against him.
The new disciplinary process – again, approved by the NFL players union – allows for either side to appeal the discipline officer’s verdict. So now Commissioner Roger Goodell or his designee will decide Watson’s discipline.
Watson’s legal team has two days to respond. And then there is no timeline on a final decision by Goodell or his designee.
The NFLPA has threatened to file a federal lawsuit against the NFL for its unbalanced treatment of personal conduct violations of players v. owners.
The threat of owners being called for depositions might be enough to forge some kind of settlement between the sides. But settlement talks have failed throughout this case.
Otherwise, this could result in a long, drawn-out legal war that would hang over the Browns’ – and NFL – season for many months.
What a fine mess the Browns have gotten themselves into.
And to think, they only had to give up three No. 1 draft picks and $230 million guaranteed in a new contract for Watson to get involved.