Appearing on ESPN’s “First Take,” lawyer Tony Bazby criticized the investigation, saying he hoped the NFL would appeal, but his clients are outraged and disappointed by the lenient suspension handed down by the disciplinary inspector.
“Don’t expect the NFL to do something heroic here,” Buzby said.
On Monday, Watson was suspended for six games without pay for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy at private meetings with massage therapists, according to a ruling by a retired federal judge jointly appointed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association.
Watson has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Two grand juries in Texas declined to indict Watson on any charges.
There were 24 civil suits filed against Watson, 23 of which were settled in private.
Both the NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) have until Thursday to appeal the suspension to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The NFL has said it is reviewing referee Sue Robinson’s decision and will decide on its next steps. The players’ association has already said it will not appeal.
An appeal from either party will be heard by Goodell, and his decision – or his designee – will be considered final in accordance with the 2020 collective bargaining agreement.
Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, told CNN he would not comment until the NFL decides whether to appeal.
Judge Robinson, who was appointed jointly by the NFL and NFLPA, said she was suspending the 26-year-old for his “predatory behavior.”
“While this is the most severe punishment ever imposed on an NFL player for allegations of non-violent sexual conduct, Mr. Watson’s conduct is more egregious than any previously reviewed by the NFL,” Robinson wrote in the 16-page ruling.
But despite these findings, Judge Robinson has criticized the NFL for demanding an unprecedented, full-season suspension that will be much longer than other players accused of non-violent sexual behavior.
On Tuesday, Bazby — the lawyer for the plaintiffs in the Watson case — told ESPN he hoped the NFL would appeal because the gesture would be well received by prosecutors.
“I think it would change the message and I think it would be well received by the women I represent,” he said.
“Let’s see what the NFL does in the future.”
In her findings, Robinson wrote that her decision was limited to a report that was presented to her by NFL investigators, former prosecutors with years of experience investigating sexual harassment cases. She noted that Watson “allegedly worked with more than 60 massage therapists” during the period under review and that the NFL “only investigated claims by 24 massage therapists who sued Mr. Watson for damages.”
Robinson wrote that out of 24 NFLs, only 12 alleged victims were able to be interviewed. They relied on the testimony of four of those 12 in the case, which was submitted to her for review.
Buzby criticized the way the investigation was conducted.
“None of my clients testified before a federal judge. I think it’s a common misconception that four people testified. This is not true. None of them showed up. said. “After these interviews, we had no contact with the NFL.
“They care about profit. They care about making money,” Buzby said on ESPN.
“They’re trying to handle it like a public relations crisis, but as far as trying to do anything to guarantee these specific women or women’s rights – or deal with women’s rights in general – that’s not part of their mission statement and they “. I made that very clear throughout the process.”
On Tuesday, the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center said it was “disappointed” by the decision to suspend Watson for only six games.
“The 6-game suspension dangerously reflects the flaws in our criminal justice system and sends a strong message to our communities,” the organization said in a statement to CNN on Tuesday. “Too often, those in power and celebrities who commit violence against others are not held accountable for their actions.
“These incessant headlines excite a lot of people. We tell the survivors that we see you and we believe you. .”
The decision came after several female massage therapists filed lawsuits against Watson alleging sexual assault or misconduct during massage sessions. Last month, 30 women who filed or intended to file lawsuits against the Texan organization over Watson’s alleged misconduct settled their lawsuits, according to a Buzbee statement and Texan property.
Watson, a three-time pro bowler, did not play last season as a member of the Houston Texans due to trade demand as well as investigations into these allegations.
A few days later, the Browns traded three first-round picks for Watson and then signed him to a five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million contract, the most guaranteed contract in NFL history.
Watson will not be paid during his suspension, but the Browns have structured his new contract so that his base salary is $690,000 in the first year and then $46 million for each of the next four years.