The NFL had three days to file an appeal on the ruling handed down by former US district Judge Sue L. Robinson on Monday; appeal puts the league in a position to ultimately decide Deshaun Watson’s punishment, with them said to be pushing for a season-long ban
Last Updated: 03/08/22 11:38pm
The NFL has filed an appeal of the six-game suspension recommended for Deshaun Watson, putting itself in position to ultimately decide the punishment handed to the Cleveland Browns quarterback.
Former US district Judge Sue L Robinson, picked by the league and the NFLPA as an independent disciplinary officer, said on Monday Watson should be suspended six games without pay for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy following accusations of sexual misconduct.
While the union vowed to accept whatever ruling Robinson issued, the league had three days to file an appeal, which they decided to file on Wednesday afternoon.
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The league said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will assign a designee to hear the league’s appeal. That person will issue a “full, final and complete disposition of the dispute,” per the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
“The NFL notified the NFLPA that it will appeal Judge Robinson’s disciplinary decision and filed its brief this afternoon,” the NFL said in a statement on Wednesday.
Robinson wrote on Monday though the penalty is the “most significant ever imposed on an NFL player for allegations of non-violent sexual conduct, Mr Watson’s pattern of conduct is more egregious than any before reviewed by the NFL.”
According to reports, the NFL was pushing for an indefinite suspension that would last through the 2022 season. The NFLPA and Watson have vowed to sue if he is suspended for the season.
- Arizona Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins received a six-game suspension for a performance-enhancing drugs violation.
- Receiver Josh Gordon has been suspended a total of 78 games by the NFL since entering the league in 2012 due to violations of their drug policy.
- Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley was suspended for the full 2022 season for betting on games.
- Former New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress got a four-game ban after accidentally shooting himself in the leg with a firearm.
- Vincent Jackson was suspended for three games for driving a vehicle knowingly with a suspended license.
Robinson found there was not enough evidence to support a season-long or indefinite banishment.
“The NFL may be a forward-facing’ organisation, but it is not necessarily a forward-looking one,” Robinson wrote. “Just as the NFL responded to violent conduct after a public outcry, so it seems the NFL is responding to a yet another public outcry about Mr Watson’s conduct.
“At least in the former situation, the policy was changed and applied proactively,” she wrote. “Here, the NFL is attempting to impose a more dramatic shift in its culture without the benefit of fair notice to – and consistency of consequence for – those in the NFL subject to its policy.”
Watson is stood accused of sexual assault and inappropriate misconduct during massage sessions that took place between March 2020 and March 2021.
The 26-year-old settled 23 of the 24 sustained lawsuits he faced, including three announced on Monday by plaintiffs’ attorney Tony Buzbee. That includes a settlement with Ashley Solis, the first to sue Watson and the first to go public.
Though two grand juries in Texas decided not to pursue criminal charges against Watson, the NFL has been conducting an independent investigation to determine whether he violated its personal conduct policy.
Robinson’s ruling was made following three days of testimony in Delaware in June.
The Browns traded three first-round picks for Watson in March and signed him to a five-year, $230m contract – with all money fully guaranteed.
They have said Jacoby Brissett will be the starting quarterback for the duration of Watson’s suspension.