BERIA, Ohio – The NFL on Wednesday appealed a six-game suspension for the Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun WatsonDisciplinary Officer Sue L. Robinson is seeking severe punishment for violating the league’s personal conduct policy in the wake of Monday’s decision.
In a statement, the league said it notified the NFL Players Association that it would appeal and then file its brief on Wednesday afternoon.
The league said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will determine who will hear the appeal. Under the CBA, Goodell has the option of considering the appeal himself or may appoint a designer to do so.
A source told ESPN that the league is appealing for an indefinite suspension that will be at least one year (as previously sought), a monetary fine (which Watson was not initially imposed by Robinson) and remedies that will be imposed on him. Star QB must pass. ,
The union also had the right to appeal Robinson’s decision, although it issued a statement Sunday night saying it would “stand by his decision” and would not appeal, regardless of the outcome, and the league had to agree to the same. asked for.
The NFLPA has until Friday to file a written response to the NFL’s appeal. Sources told ESPN’s Jeff Darlington on Wednesday that the NFLPA was preparing to sue the NFL in federal court if it appealed Robinson’s decision.
Once the NFLPA files its response, Goodell himself will decide to hear the appeal or hire a designer — a source told Darlington on Wednesday that he has yet to formalize a decision on who will do it — and then The date of hearing will be
Any appeal must be limited to arguments from the evidence record from the three-day hearing before Robinson at the end of June and “not first considered without reference to evidence or testimony.” It will be processed on an “expedited basis” in accordance with the NFL’s personal conduct policy, although NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said there is no timeline for Goodell or his nominee.
The decision, as and when taken, shall be final and binding on all parties.
Watson was on the field when the news broke at around 4 pm on Wednesday. A team official had to go to the field and inform him of the NFL’s decision.
Brown did not comment on the NFL’s decision on Wednesday.
Robinson issued a six-match suspension on Monday, Writing in my 16 page report that “the NFL bears its burden by the primacy of the evidence to prove that Mr Watson was involved in sexual assault (as defined by the NFL) against the four physicians identified in the report.”
Robinson also found that Watson engaged in conduct that “considers a real threat to the safety and well-being of another person, and conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity of the NFL.”
Robinson wrote that the NFL has recommended that Watson be suspended for the entire 2022 regular season and postseason.
Relying on precedent, Robinson sought to differentiate between violent and nonviolent sexual conduct. Robinson concluded that Watson’s conduct “does not amount to violent conduct that would require a minimum six-game suspension” as the league’s “highest-ever imposed discipline for domestic or sexual violence and sexual acts”. was established as
Robinson also found that Watson’s “predatory conduct ‘shed a negative light on the league and its players’.”
Watson has denied all wrongdoing and said that he has no remorse for any of his actions during the massage session. Watson also said that he cooperated with the NFL’s investigation and “truly answered every question” asked by the league’s investigators.
“We respect Judge Robinson’s decision, and at the same time, are sympathetic and understand that this process has triggered many people,” Brown’s owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in a statement Monday. “We know Deshaun regrets that this situation has hurt many people and will continue the work needed to show him who he is on and off the field, and we will continue to support him. “
However, Robinson wrote in his report that one of the factors that determined Watson’s discipline was his “lack of expressed remorse”. She noted that mitigating factors included her being a first-time offender and an “excellent reputation in her community prior to these incidents”.
Watson has been accused of sexual assault and other inappropriate conduct during a massage session in civil lawsuits filed by 25 women. The alleged encounter in the lawsuit took place from March 2020 to March 2021, while Watson was a member of the Houston Texans.
One of 25 lawsuits was dropped in April 2021 after a judge ruled that plaintiffs were required to amend their petitions to disclose their names. In June, Watson settled 20 of the 24 lawsuits he was facing. He agreed to settle three of the remaining four on Monday, according to Houston attorney Tony Buzby, who represents the women suing Watson.
Buzby told ESPN’s John Barr that Ashley Solis, the first woman to sue Watson and the first to go public with her name and story, had settled her case.
Last month, Texans reached a settlement with 30 women who claimed or were willing to make them against the organization for their alleged role in connection with the allegations against Watson. Buzby informed ESPN that it has scheduled a news conference for Thursday afternoon and that several of its subscribers, including Solis, may speak.
Sources told ESPN’s Dan Graziano that in the days before Robinson’s decision, the NFL and Watson engaged in further settlement talks, but neither side ever felt they were close to a settlement.
According to sources, Watson’s side indicated that it was willing to offer a suspension in the range of six to eight games. Sources said the league indicated it was ready to offer a 12-game suspension and a significant fine – $8 million. Since no additional penalty was imposed, Watson is expected to miss six of his $57,500 game checks in 2022 for a loss of $345,000 from his $1.035 million basic salary.
Watson’s contract with the Browns guarantees him a league-record $230 million, with a base salary expected to rise to $46 million in 2023 and a signing bonus of $44.965 million.
Although two grand juries in Texas declined to pursue criminal charges against Watson earlier this year, the NFL is investigating whether he violated its personal conduct policy since 2021.
The league interviewed Watson several days earlier this summer. NFL investigators also spoke to several women. Robinson noted in its report that the NFL claimed it interviewed 12 women suing Watson, but Buzby told ESPN’s First Take on Tuesday that the league interviewed only 10 of their clients.
If the six-game suspension is upheld after the NFL appeals, Watson will still be able to attend practice and games during the preseason. According to the CBA, he will be allowed to return to the Browns to practice during the second part of the suspension, in Week 4. He will not be allowed to be with the team during the first half of the suspension.
Brown was traded for Watson in March, sending the Texans three first-round draft picks. Cleveland then offered Watson a new five-year contract, the richest deal in NFL history for any player.
Browns coach Kevin Stefansky said at the start of training camp last week that Jacoby Brissette Cleveland would become the starter in the event of Watson’s suspension. During the first week of camp, Watson took most of the photos with the first team offense.
Speaking on Monday, Stefansky said Brown has a plan for how they will handle the snaps going forward, “and we’ll stick to that again until more information becomes available.” Stefansky said Tuesday that he had read Robinson’s report, but would not comment on its findings, saying only that he would “respect” Robinson’s decision.
On Monday, Stefansky said he is comfortable with Watson as Browns franchise quarterback, despite Robinson’s findings. “Deshaun has said: He’s working to be the best version of himself,” Stefansky said. “He said that publicly, he said that privately, and I believe that.”
Information from ESPN’s Adam Schaffter was used in this report.