NFL seeks ‘significant’ comment for Deshaun Watson

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Several people familiar with the case said Friday that the NFL will argue that Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson should receive a “significant” suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

A person from Watson’s side in the case said on Friday that the league was “likely” seeking a full season suspension of Watson. A person familiar with the league’s view of the case cautioned to “be careful” about setting an exact length at this point for the suspension that the NFL would seek. But this person also said, “The right term is important.”

Watson faces 24 active civil lawsuits by women accusing him of sexual misconduct. The allegations include making inappropriate comments and exposing himself and forcing his penis into the woman’s hands during massage therapy sessions. Watson and his attorney, Rusty Harden, denied the allegations. Two grand juries in Texas refused to charge Watson with a crime. The NFL is preparing to present the results of its investigation to Sue L. Robinson, a former U.S. District Judge who is the jointly appointed disciplinary officer by the NFL and the NFL Players Association under the current version of the conduct policy.

The league hopes the entire disciplinary process, including resolving any potential appeals to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or someone appointed by him, will be completed by the start of training camp, a person familiar with the matter said. Brown is scheduled to open training camp on July 27.

Deshaun Watson is facing lawsuit #24 accusing him of sexual misconduct

“Like I said, I’ve never assaulted anyone, harassed anyone, or never respected anyone,” Watson said on Tuesday. at a press conference In practice the Browns offseason. “I never forced anyone to do anything.”

Under the process reviewed in the most recent collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFLPA that was completed in 2020, the initial decision on a possible suspension or fine will be made by Robinson, who is now an attorney in Wilmington, Del. , after retiring from the bench in 2017.

The case will be terminated, with no possibility of appeal, if Robinson rules there was no violation of the personal conduct policy. If it rules there is a policy violation and imposes a penalty, either side can appeal to Goodell. The NFLPA pushed for amendments to the CBA’s personal conduct policy after clashes, some of which spilled over into courtrooms after litigation brought by the union and players, in previous disciplinary cases. Previously, Goodell was responsible for making both the initial disciplinary ruling and resolving appeals.

It is not clear if Robinson will hold what amounts to a quasi-trial before making her decision. She declined to comment this week, referring questions to the league and union.

The NFL investigation was conducted by Lisa Friel, the former head of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit in the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the league’s special investigations attorney.

Friel has interviewed at least 11 of the women who accuse Watson and are represented by attorney Tony Busby, according to a person familiar with the investigation, along with other women. I reviewed the relevant available documents. Watson was interviewed by NFL representatives over the course of several days in Houston.

“I can’t control that,” Watson said this week of the NFL’s disciplinary process. “I met with the NFL a couple of weeks ago and did everything they asked me to do. I honestly answered every question the NFL asked me. I spent hours with the people who dropped them. And that’s all I could do was be honest and tell them exactly what happened. I know they have a job so I have to respect that. And that’s what we wanted to do is cooperate. And they have to make a decision [that’s] The best for the league.

Roger Goodell said the NFL investigation into Deshaun Watson is nearly complete

Hardin confirmed that he was involved in representing Watson in the NFL’s operation on the side of the union but declined to comment on the league’s actions.

The association gave a presentation on the case to representatives of the NFLPA and Watson, according to a person familiar with the matter. This led those on Watson’s side of the case to conclude that the NFL would seek a significant penalty.

Another person familiar with the league’s view said in recent weeks that it’s not clear whether Major League Baseball’s two-season suspension under its domestic violence policy would set a precedent for Watson’s proposed NFL suspension. But the NFL understands that the length of Power’s suspension can affect public expectations and reaction in the Watson case, that person said.

Outside of the NFLPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler has been implicated in the case. A person familiar with the NFL’s view said the league was cautious that Kessler would not argue that no disciplinary action would be taken at all.

Kessler declined to comment on Friday, referring questions to the NFL. The NFLPA can cite no criminal charges, although it is NFL policy to allow discipline without such charges.

The NFLPA defense of Watson will raise the case that owners Daniel Snyder of the Washington captains, Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots and Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys were not suspended by the league for incidents involving themselves and their teams. This was confirmed by a person familiar with the case after it first occurred Reported by Pro Football Talk.

One person familiar with the NFL’s view said the league “ideally” would like the entire process, including resolving any appeals, to be completed by the start of training camp, adding a disclaimer that the approach taken by Kessler and the NFL could be slowed procedures.

This is the first case to be resolved under the new disciplinary system is a high-profile issue. Someone on Watson’s side wondered if Goodell might be reluctant to overturn the neutral arbitrator’s disciplinary judgment in the first case.

The league and the NFLPA could reach a settlement at some point to prevent any appeal or other legal action by Watson.

Brown completed a business deal with the Houston Texans for Watson this season and signed him to a new contract worth $230 million guaranteed over five seasons. Watson did not play last season, being placed on the inactive Texas roster on a weekly basis.

Any suspension will be without pay, based on Watson’s $1.035 million salary for the 2022 season. The NFL could seek a fine, in addition to any salary lost by Watson. The league can also state that additional discipline can be imposed if new information emerges.

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