After a 15-month NFL investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, a decision on how Watson will be disciplined under the league’s personal conduct policy is expected Monday. .
Sue L. Robinson, the retired federal judge jointly appointed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association to oversee player discipline, told the league and players’ union on Sunday morning that she would issue her decision on Monday, according to two people. with direct knowledge of Robinson’s communication. These people requested anonymity because Robinson has not publicly discussed the process.
More than two dozen women have accused Watson of engaging in sexually coercive and lewd behavior toward women he hired for massages from fall 2019 to March 2021 when he was a member of the Houston Texans. Twenty-four women have filed civil lawsuits against Watson and 20 lawsuits have been colonized in June. Watson denied the allegations, and grand juries in two Texas counties declined to criminally indict Watson.
Among the conduct prohibited by the league’s personal conduct policy are sexual offenses, actions that endanger the safety and well-being of another person, and anything that undermines the integrity of the league.
The Browns traded for Watson in March, after a first grand jury declined to indict him but before a second did, and awarded him a fully guaranteed, five-year, $230 million contract. The decision on Watson’s discipline was widely anticipated, not only because of the Browns’ investment in him, but because the breadth of the allegations against Watson sets it apart from any other personal conduct case that has been reviewed by the court. league.
The league and Watson’s representatives were unable to negotiate a mutually agreed-upon discipline, putting the initial decision in Robinson’s hands. She oversaw a three-day hearing in late June, during which the NFL recommended that Watson be suspended indefinitely and forced to wait at least a full season to reapply, while the union and Watson’s representatives argue. are opposed to a long ban. It was the first personal conduct case in the NFL to be heard by a disciplinary officer instead of commissioner Roger Goodell, a protocol established in the 2020 collective bargaining agreement.
The league and players’ association would have three business days after Robinson’s decision to submit a written appeal, which would be handled by Goodell or a person of his choosing. But the players’ union said in a statement late Sunday – before Robinson issued his decision – that it would not appeal and called on the NFL to uphold the decision.
“Every player, owner, business partner and stakeholder deserves to know that our process is legitimate and will not be tarnished by the whims of the League office,” the union said. “That’s why, regardless of his decision, Deshaun and the NFLPA will stand by his decision and we call on the NFL to do the same.”
The NFL began its investigation of Watson in March 2021, when the accusers’ first trials were filed. League investigators, who do not have subpoena powers, met with 10 of the women who filed lawsuits against Watson, contemporary witnesses to verify their accounts and other women who worked with Watson.