NFL decides to appeal Deshaun Watson’s six-game suspension

NFL decides to appeal Deshaun Watson’s six-game suspension

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The NFL has decided to appeal Deshaun Watson’s six-game suspension, the league announced Wednesday.

The decision came two days after independent disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson recommended the punishment for the Cleveland Browns quarterback. Watson was accused by 24 women in Texas of sexual assault. He settled 23 of the 24 civil lawsuits against him and avoided criminal charges with two grand juries.

However, in Robinson’s 16-page report, she described Watson’s behavior as “more egregious than any before reviewed by the NFL.”

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Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns rests after running a drill during training camp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on July 30, 2022, in Berea, Ohio.

Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns rests after running a drill during training camp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on July 30, 2022, in Berea, Ohio. (Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy released a statement on the league’s decision to appeal.

“On Monday, Judge Sue L. Robinson, the independent Disciplinary Officer jointly appointed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association, issued her ruling in the Personal Conduct Policy matter regarding Deshaun Watson,” the statement read.

“Under the 2020 NFL-NFLPA collective bargaining agreement (‘CBA’), the factual findings of the Disciplinary Officer are binding and may not be appealed. Judge Robinson found that Mr. Watson violated the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy on multiple occasions and suspended him for six games. The CBA affords the NFL or NFLPA the right to appeal the discipline imposed by the Disciplinary Officer.

“Such an appeal must be filed within three days and would be heard by the Commissioner or his designee.

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

Deshaun Watson throws a pass during the Cleveland Browns' training camp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on July 30, 2022, in Berea, Ohio.

Deshaun Watson throws a pass during the Cleveland Browns’ training camp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on July 30, 2022, in Berea, Ohio. (Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

According to the NFL Network, the NFLPA has two days to respond to the appeal. The NFLPA preemptively said Sunday it would not appeal Robinson’s ruling.

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In June’s hearing, the NFL argued for an indefinite suspension of at least one year and a $5 million fine. The union argued Watson should not be punished at all because he was not convicted of a crime. Two Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal charges.

The lawsuits alleged Watson would expose himself to female massage therapists, touching them with his penis or kissing them without permission. One woman alleged Watson forced her to perform oral sex.

Watson has denied any wrongdoing throughout the matter and made his stance clear in his introductory press conference after he was traded to the Browns from the Houston Texans.

Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns throws a pass during training camp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on July 30, 2022, in Berea, Ohio.

Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns throws a pass during training camp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on July 30, 2022, in Berea, Ohio. (Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)

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“I have never assaulted, disrespected or harassed any woman in my life,” Watson said as he sat next to head coach Kevin Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry. “I was raised differently. That is not my DNA. That is not my culture. That is not me as a person.”

In July, the Texans settled with 30 women after the team was accused of ignoring concerns and enabling Watson. Terms of the settlement remained confidential.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson prepares to throw a pass during the NFL football team's training camp on Aug. 1, 2022, in Berea, Ohio.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson prepares to throw a pass during the NFL football team’s training camp on Aug. 1, 2022, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Nick Cammett)

Watson missed the 2021 season as he initially requested a trade from the Texans. He signed a fully guaranteed five-year contract with the Browns upon joining the team.

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In 2020, Watson had 4,823 passing yards and 33 touchdown passes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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