The NFL will appeal the six-game suspension of Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Watson was accused of sexual assault and inappropriate conduct during massage sessions by 25 women in civil lawsuits. These encounters took place from March 2020 to March 2021. One of the lawsuits was dropped in April 2021 after a judge ruled that plaintiffs had to amend their petitions to disclose their names.
In June Watson settled 20 of the 24 lawsuits, and will settle three more according to Tony Bubzee the attorney representing the women suing Watson. Watson has denied any wrongdoing and has no regrets about his actions.
Two grand juries in Texas declined to indict Watson on criminal complaints filed by 10 women. The NFL has conducted its own investigation since 2021 to see if Watson violated the personal conduct policy.
Over the summer the league interviewed Watson for a few days during the summer and interviewed several women suing him. It was reported that the NFL interviewed 12 women but Bubzee said they only interviewed 10.
During the offseason, the Texans traded Watson to the Browns and the Browns gave him a league-record contract of $230 million.
Disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson was the judge for this personal conduct policy case. She found that Watson violated multiple policies and suspended him for six games. The NFL informed the NFLPA that they will appeal. They were looking for an indefinite suspension (at least a year).
Robinson wrote in a 16-page report “the NFL carried its burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Mr. Watson engaged in sexual assault (as defined by the NFL) against the four therapists identified by the Report.”
Robinson did acknowledge that the NFL argued for Watson to be suspended for at least a year. She also put out there that this was Watson’s first offense and his outstanding record with the community prior to these records.
Now that the appeal has been submitted it is up to Commissioner Roger Goodell who can choose either himself or a designee to hear the appeal. There will be no new evidence accepted into the hearings for the appeal.