NFL appeals Deshaun Watson’s six-game suspension

The NFL has appealed the six-game suspension of the Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson Wednesday, according to a league spokesperson.

The league challenged the penalty issued Monday by a third-party disciplinary officer following a hearing into charges that Watson engaged in sexually coercive and lewd behavior towards two dozen women he hired for massages . He is expected to seek a larger penalty which could include additional missed games and a fine.

Following a process agreed to in the collective agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association, the appeal will be heard by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or a person of his choosing. The league did not immediately say who would oversee the appeal.

Sue L. Robinson, the retired federal judge jointly appointed by the NFL and players’ union to oversee the disciplinary hearing, found that Watson violated the league’s personal conduct policy by engaging in unwanted sexual contact with another person, endangering the safety and well-being of another person and undermining the integrity of the NFL. She suggested in her 16-page report that Watson’s conduct, which she called “predatory” and “flagrant,” might have merited a harsher punishment, but was limited by the policies of the league and its disciplinary record.

Watson denied the charges against him, and two Texas grand juries declined to indict him. Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam said they would “continue to support” the quarterback who they awarded a five-year, $230 million fully guaranteed contract in March.

The players’ union said before Robinson’s decision it would not appeal, but after the suspension was announced on Monday, the NFL released a statement saying it would review his findings and “make a decision on next steps.” stages” within three working days. CBA allows you to meet challenges.

The six-game suspension was criticized by Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing most of Watson’s accusers, as well as sports law experts and advocates for victims of sexual abuse. The league had argued to Robinson that Watson deserved at least a one-year suspension as the union fought for a lesser sentence.

The league began its investigation of Watson in March 2021, when Ashley Solis, a licensed massage therapist in Houston, became the first of a total of 24 women to file lawsuits against him. The women said he assaulted or harassed them during massage appointments in 2020 and 2021, when Watson played for the Houston Texans. In a brief filed with Robinson, the league wrote that Watson “used his status as an NFL player as a pretext to engage in a premeditated pattern of predatory behavior toward multiple women.”