On Wednesday, the National Football League filed an appeal against the six-game ban handed down to Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, according to a spokeswoman for the league.
The league appealed the punishment that was handed down on Monday by a third-party disciplinary officer in response to allegations that Watson had engaged in sexually coercive and obscene conduct with twenty-four different women who he had hired for massages. According to a person who has knowledge of the NFL’s appeal but is not authorised to speak publicly about it, the NFL is arguing for an indefinite suspension with the option of reinstatement after a year. This information was provided by a person who was not authorised to speak publicly about the appeal.
According to the individual, the league also suggested that Watson pay a fine and get therapy, and it noted worries about Watson’s lack of contrition in the brief that it submitted on Wednesday. The deadline for the union to provide a response is Friday at 5 p.m., despite the fact that they have refused to speak.
Sue L. Robinson, a retired federal judge who had been jointly appointed by the National Football League and the players’ union to preside over the disciplinary hearing, came to the conclusion that Watson had violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy by engaging in unwanted sexual contact with another person, putting another person’s safety and well-being in jeopardy, and undermining the NFL’s integrity. Robinson’s decision can be found in the report that she issued after the hearing. She stated in her 16-page assessment that Watson’s behaviour, which she termed “predatory” and “egregious,” would have earned a harsher sentence but that she was restricted by the league’s standards and the league’s previous record of discipline. She described Watson’s behaviour “predatory” and “egregious.”
Watson has refuted the allegations that have been made against him, and two grand juries in Texas have decided not to prosecute him. He reached settlements with all but one of the twenty-four women who had brought complaints against him for providing them with massages.
Robinson said in her report that Watson’s denials did not look genuine and that he exhibited no remorse. She also stated that Watson did not express any regret for his actions. Before Robinson’s decision, the players’ union stated that it would not appeal, but after the suspension was announced on Monday, the N.F.L. stated that it would review her findings and “make a determination on next steps” within the three business days that the C.B.A. allows for challenges. Robinson’s decision was issued after the players’ union stated that it would not appeal.
The six-game punishment was attacked by Tony Buzbee, the lawyer who represents the majority of Watson’s accusers, as well as specialists in sports law and advocates for sexual assault victims. In all, the penalty received negative feedback from all of these groups. While the union had lobbied for a less severe punishment, the league had argued to Robinson that Watson deserved at least a full year’s worth of suspension for his actions. Robinson said that she made the decision to ban Watson for six games based on the punishments that the league has meted out in prior situations involving gender-based violence and that the reasoning for her decision can be found in the previous sentence.
The matter involving Watson was the pilot trial for a brand-new procedure that was introduced by the CBA in the year 2020. The modification attempted to quell accusations of Goodell’s disproportionately large role in the disciplinary process, as well as his tendency to use that authority in an arbitrary manner, by designating an arbitrator to supervise the assessment of the evidence and decide on the first sentence.
The players’ union may take the league’s appeal to federal court, as it has done in the past when contesting rulings about player behaviour. One such incident occurred in 2015, when quarterback Tom Brady appealed the four-game ban he received as a result of his involvement in the so-called “Deflategate” affair. A judge in a district court sided with Brady and said that Goodell exceeded his power when he suspended the quarterback for his role in an alleged scheme to take air out of game balls in order to improve their grip. The judge’s decision was based on the fact that Goodell suspended Brady for his role in the scheme. The judgement that Goodell made, on the other hand, was maintained in 2016 by a panel of a federal appeals court that supported Goodell’s extensive jurisdiction to sanction players.
According to Michael LeRoy, an arbitrator who teaches labour law at the University of Illinois, the terminology used by the C.B.A. makes a “emphatic message” about the finality of the procedure that both parties have consented to. While the appeal is being processed, Watson will be allowed to continue participating in Browns training camp practises.