NFL Says Deshaun Watson Should Be Suspended

The decision will be made by the league's disciplinary officer
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2022 11:47 AM CDT
NFL Says Deshaun Watson Should Be Suspended
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson answers a question after practice at the NFL football team's practice facility on June 14 in Berea, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

(Newser) – The NFL has recommended an indefinite suspension of at least a year for Deshaun Watson, the Cleveland Browns QB embroiled in numerous sexual misconduct allegations. The announcement came ahead of a hearing in which former federal judge Sue L. Robinson—who serves as the NFL's disciplinary officer—will rule on Watson's punishment, per USA Today. Robinson will review findings from the NFL's yearlong investigation, as well as arguments from lawyers for the league and the NFL Players Association. The hearing is scheduled to begin Tuesday and could continue Wednesday, but it's "unknown how long it will take Robinson to make a decision," per the Guardian.

Watson has denied wrongdoing and resisted the idea of a suspension during earlier talks with the league. Per Cleveland.com, a one-year suspension means he would miss the 2022 season; he could return in 2023 if he meets certain conditions, such as counseling. The NFLPA can appeal Robinson's ruling, but the odds of winning are improbable since Commissioner Roger Goodell would make the final determination, and he and the league have already said they're intent on sending a strong message. Watson will be represented by NFLPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who will likely argue against any punishment, citing two Texas grand juries that declined to bring criminal charges against Watson.

That decision had no bearing on the NFL's course of action; nor did it prevent civil lawsuits. Earlier in June, Watson's attorneys announced settlements with 20 out of 24 of Watson's accusers; the rest are expected to take their suits to court, and the "indefinite" nature of any suspension means the NFL could adjust Watson's punishment if more incriminating evidence surfaces. On that note, Watson's former team, the Houston Texans, was named in a civil suit filed Monday, according to ESPN. Attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents Watson's accusers, said it's the first of "what will likely be many," and that there's "incredibly damning" evidence that the Texans enabled Watson's behavior. (Read more Deshaun Watson stories.)

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