NFL Says It Is Appealing Deshaun Watson's Punishment

League wants a longer suspension for Browns QB
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2022 7:41 AM CDT
NFL Wants Harsher Punishment for Watson
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson runs the offense during the NFL football team's training camp, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022, in Berea, Ohio.   (AP Photo/David Richard)

The NFL has decided to appeal the six-game suspension Deshaun Watson received this week, seeking a tougher punishment for the Cleveland Browns quarterback. The suspension was issued Monday by former federal judge Sue L. Robinson, the league's disciplinary officer. The NFL had recommended an indefinite suspension of at least a year for Watson, who was accused of sexual misconduct by two dozen massage therapists. The league said Wednesday that it had notified the NFL players' union of its plan to appeal Robinson's decision, NBC reports. The appeal will be heard either by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or somebody he designates.

Sources tell ESPN that as punishment for Watson's violation of the NFL's personal conduct policy, the league is seeking an indefinite suspension that would last at least through the 2022 season and postseason, as well a fine and an order for Watson to undergo treatment. Robinson didn't fine Watson, but he was ordered to limit massages to "Club-directed sessions and Club-approved massage therapists." The players union has until Friday to file a response. According to ESPN's sources, the union plans to sue the league in federal court if it goes ahead with the appeal.

In her ruling, Robinson said the suspension was the "most significant punishment ever imposed on an NFL player for allegations of non-violent sexual conduct" —and Watson’s "pattern of conduct is more egregious than any before reviewed by the NFL." She said mitigating factors included his "excellent reputation in the community prior to these events." The appeal will be limited to arguments based on evidence presented during Robinson's hearing. Tony Buzbee, an attorney representing the massage therapists, praised the NFL's decision to appeal, per NBC. "Bravo to the NFL," he said. "It’s never too late to do the right thing." (More Deshaun Watson stories.)

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