NFL Appeals Deshawn Watson’s Six-Game Suspension

The NFL filed an appeal six game suspension or Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshawn Watson on Wednesday, according to a league spokesman.

The league disputed a fine handed out on Monday by an outside disciplinary officer as a result of hearings over allegations that Watson engaged in sexual coercion and indecent behavior towards two dozen women he hired for massages. He is expected to seek a more severe penalty, which could include extra missed games and a fine.

Following a process agreed upon in a collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association, the appeal will be heard by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or a person of his choice. The league did not immediately say who would oversee the appeal.

Sue L. Robinson, retired federal judge jointly appointed by the NFL and the players union to oversee the disciplinary hearing, found that Watson violated the league’s personal conduct policy engaging in unwanted sexual contact with another person, endangering the safety and well-being of another person, and undermining the integrity of the NFL. In her 16-page report, she suggested that Watson’s behavior, which she called “predatory” and “egregious”, may have merited greater punishment, but that she was limited by league politics and past record.

Watson denied the charges against him, and two Texas grand juries declined to indict him. Jimmy and Dee Haslam, owners of the Browns, said they would “continue to support” the quarterback, whom they signed to a five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million contract in March.

The players’ union ahead of Robinson’s decision said it would not appeal, but after the suspension was announced on Monday, the NFL released a statement saying it would review its findings and “decide on next steps” within three business days. days. The CBA allows for problems.

The six-game suspension was met with criticism from Tony Bazby, the attorney who represents most of Watson’s accusers, as well as sports law experts and advocates for victims of sexual assault. The league argued to Robinson that Watson deserved a suspension of at least a full year, while the union fought for a lesser sentence.

The league launched an investigation into Watson in March 2021, when Ashley Solis, a licensed massage therapist from Houston, became the first of 24 women to file lawsuits against him. The women said he assaulted or harassed them during massage sessions in 2020 and 2021 while Watson played for the Houston Texans. In a memo filed with Robinson, the league wrote that Watson “used his status as an NFL player as an excuse for deliberate predatory behavior towards several women.”