Roger Goodell has final say on Deshawn Watson’s suspension

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshawn Watson received a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy in an order issued Monday by a third-party disciplinary inspector, but the final decision remains with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Sue L. Robinson, former U.S. District Judge, was jointly appointed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association. follow the case. Her decision comes more than a month after a three-day Delaware hearing in which the NFL argued for an indefinite suspension, or at least one full season, while the players’ union reportedly did not offer a suspension.

According to a person familiar with the language of the ruling, Robinson notes that a six-game suspension without pay is the harshest for any player facing accusations of “non-violent” sexual conduct.

The parties now have three days to file a written appeal with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or his designee for a final decision. The league’s policy on personal conduct allows a player to be penalized even if there are no criminal charges.

Although Watson has not been charged and denied any wrongdoing, 25 women accused him of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior during massage sessions in 2020 and 2021 while he was an advocate for the Houston Texans. One of these civil cases was dismissed and Watson reached confidential agreements with 23 of the remaining 24. The NFL said these calculations will not affect the final disciplinary action.

Among the women’s allegations is that Watson exposed himself during massage sessions and forced his penis on them.

The NFLPA issued a statement Sunday night saying it would not appeal Robinson’s decision and urged the NFL to do the same.

Claiming that this provided the league with “the most comprehensive set of information for any investigation into personal conduct,” the union said, “Every player, owner, business partner, and stakeholder deserves to know that our process is legal and will not be tarnished based on the whim of the League’s office. That is why, regardless of [Robinson’s] decision, Deshawn and the NFLPA will support her decision, and we encourage the NFL to do the same.”

The NFL, in a statement released on Monday, did not specify its intentions.

“In light of its findings, the league is revisiting referee Robinson’s six-game suspension and will decide on next steps,” the league said in a statement.

Watson was purchased by the Browns in March after Cleveland sent the Texans three first-round picks. He received the richest deal in NFL history: a fully guaranteed $230 million over five years.

Under a cloud of accusations, the Texans sent Watson to the bench for all of 2021.