BEREA, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Just when everyone thought there was some clarity in the Deshaun Watson saga, another chapter gets added.
The NFL informed the NFLPA Wednesday that they are appealing Sue L. Robinson’s decision to suspend Watson for six games to begin the 2022 season.
Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, the NFLPA has three business days to respond to the appeal, which would be by Friday.
“Judge Robinson found that Mr. Watson violated the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy on multiple occasions and suspended him for six games,” the league said. “The CBA affords the NFL or NFLPA the right to appeal the discipline imposed by the Disciplinary Officer.”
Commissioner Rodger Goodell or his designee will hear the appeal and issue a written decision following it.
Under the policy, Goodell or his designee may "overturn, reduce, modify, or increase the discipline that was previously issued, and that ruling will be final and binding to all parties.”
According to the personal conduct policy, the appeal “will be processed on an expedited basis; limited to consideration of the discipline imposed;” and will be “based upon a review of the existing record without reference to evidence or testimony not previously considered.”
According to multiple reports from ESPN and NFL Network, the NFL is seeking the indefinite suspension with a minimum of a full season for Watson plus a heavy fine they sought but did not get from Robinson with their appeal.
The news broke just as the Browns wrapped up their seventh practice of training camp at their headquarters in Berea.
Should the NFL win their appeal and Watson receives a heavy suspension and fine, it is likely that Watson and the NFLPA would take the league to federal court to seek a temporary injunction to allow Watson to play while the matter is resolved.
Robinson agreed with the NFL and found that Watson violated the league’s personal conduct policy on three levels – sexual assault; conduct that poses a genuine danger to the safety and well-being of another person; and conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity of the NFL.
The Browns are not commenting on the appeal and leaving that to the NFLPA to handle.
Robinson noted in her conclusion that “Mr. Watson’s pattern of conduct is more egregious than any before reviewed by the NFL,” however her discipline falls within the scope of existing parameters.
“It is inherently unfair to identify conduct as prohibited only after the conduct has been committed, just as it is inherently unjust to change the penalties for such conduct after the fact,” Robinson wrote.
In addition to the six-game ban, Robinson also required Watson to meet three requirements upon his reinstatement – “have no adverse involvement with law enforcement;” do not violate the conduct policy again and she imposed a mandate that “Mr. Watson to limit his massage therapy to Club-directed sessions and Club-approved massage therapists for the duration of his career.”
This is far from over.