NFL appeals Deshaun Watson’s 6-game suspension, league says


The NFL will appeal the suspension of Cleveland Brown quarterback Deshaun Watson for violating his personal conduct policy for “egregious acts” of “sexualized contact” with massage therapists, the league announced Wednesday.

The NFL said in a statement it had notified the players’ union that it was appealing. The league said in the statement that you have three days from the verdict to appeal.

Retired Judge Sue L. Robinson presided over Watson’s case and imposed the suspension on Monday.

“The NFL notified the NFLPA that it will be appealing Judge Robinson’s disciplinary decision and filed its brief this afternoon. Commissioner Roger Goodell will determine who will hear the appeal,” the league said.

Tony Buzbee, an attorney representing two dozen massage therapists who have accused Watson of misconduct, praised the NFL’s decision to appeal Wednesday.

“Well done to the NFL. It’s never too late to do the right thing,” he said in a statement.

Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, could not be immediately reached for comment on Wednesday. No one could be reached from the players’ union.

The judge ruled that there is “sufficient circumstantial evidence to support the NFL’s claim” that Watson sought sexual contact with several massage therapists he reached out to via social media.

The quarterback “knew that such sexualized contact was undesirable,” the judge added.

But she questioned the NFL’s desire to bench Watson for the whole of 2022.

“If this recommended penalty is unprecedented according to the NFL (as characterized by Mr. Watson and the NFLPA), it’s because his behavior is unprecedented,” Robinson added.

Robinson also said in her decision, “It is inherently unfair to wait until after the conduct has been committed to mark conduct as prohibited, just as it is inherently unfair to subsequently change the penalties for such conduct.”

According to Robinson, the most typical bans for domestic violence were six-game bans, adding that Watson is entitled to some mitigating considerations.

He was a “first time offender”, had “an excellent reputation in his community prior to these events” and had already been paused throughout 2021 when the allegations hung over him‘ said the judge.

“Mr. Watson is hereby suspended for six (6) regular season games without pay,” she ruled. “While this is the most significant punishment ever handed out to an NFL player for allegations of nonviolent sexual conduct, Mr. Watson’s pattern of behavior is more outrageous than any previously reviewed by the NFL.”

Watson was also ordered to limit his massages to “club-led sessions and club-approved massage therapists.”

A players’ union representative said on Monday Watson would comply with Robinson’s decree.

Union spokesman Brandon Parker urged Goodell not to appeal the judge’s decision, saying that “Watson and the union will not be appealing the verdict.”

Scott Berkowitz, president of Washington DC-based RAINN, an anti-sexual violence organization, welcomed the decision to appeal the six-game suspension. The organization asked Watson to miss the entire season.

“While no disciplinary action will undo the trauma inflicted by Watson, a suspension of at least a year will send a strong message that his actions have no place in the NFL or in our society,” Berkowitz said in a statement.

The National Organization for Women has called the six-game ban “unacceptable, offensive and dangerous – but not surprising”.

“The NFL has had a problem with violence against women for years — and everyone knows it,” the group said in a statement. “Deshaun Watson must not benefit from his horrific behavior, and the NFL must change its business model from one that allows, enables and conceals sexual misconduct to one that respects women and holds perpetrators accountable.” “

Watson signed a five-year, $230 million contract with the Browns in March.

He missed a lot of time on the field by not playing for the Houston Texans all of last season as his legal challenges and the team unfolded wanted to trade him.

Lindsey Pipia contributed. NFL appeals Deshaun Watson’s 6-game suspension, league says

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