The NFL is appealing a disciplinary officer’s decision to suspend Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson for six games.
The NFL is appealing a disciplinary officer’s decision to suspend Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson for six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, giving Commissioner Roger Goodell or someone he designates authority to impose a stiffer penalty.
Former federal judge Sue L. Robinson issued her ruling Monday after Watson was accused by two dozen women in Texas of sexual misconduct during massage treatments while he played for the Houston Texans.
In her 16-page report, Robinson described Watson’s behavior as “more egregious than any before reviewed by the NFL.”
Robinson’s punishment — in her first case since being jointly appointed by the league and NFL Players Association — fell well short of the indefinite suspension of at least one year sought by the league.
So, the NFL on Wednesday exercised its right to appeal, per the collective bargaining agreement.
The players’ union has until the end of business Friday to respond in writing. The union could challenge the appeal ruling in federal court, setting the stage for a prolonged fight.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said there’s no timeline for Goodell or his designee to make a ruling.
According to the league’s personal conduct policy, the appeal will be processed on an expedited basis. Also, it will be “limited to consideration of the terms of discipline imposed” and “based upon a review of the existing record without reference to evidence or testimony not previously considered.”
The policy also states the “decision of the Commissioner or his designee, which may overturn, reduce, modify or increase the discipline previously issued, will be final and binding on all parties.”
This is the first time since the new CBA was signed in 2020 that the league and the NFLPA turned to a jointly appointed disciplinary officer to determine violations of the personal conduct policy. In the past, Goodell has served as judge and jury to impose penalties on players.
By appealing, the NFL is giving that power back to Goodell, who can chose another person to levy any punishment.
A league official told The Associated Press before Watson’s three-day disciplinary hearing concluded in June that the NFL wanted to avoid an appeal.
But the league proceeded with one amid a backlash from some fans and intense public pressure in the media. Other factors include Watson’s lack of remorse, which Robinson noted in her report.
The NFL argued for an unprecedented punishment 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 was private.
Watson, who played four seasons with the Texans before sitting out last season and then being traded to Cleveland in March, recently settled 23 of 24 lawsuits filed by the women who alleged sexual harassment or assault during massage treatments …read more
Source:: Chicago Sun Times
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