Disciplinary hearing scheduled for Tuesday for Deshaun Watson, NFL pushing for suspension of at least one year
Last week, Deshaun Watson (QB, Browns) made settlements with 20 of the 24 women who were suing him and accusing him of sexual assault during massage sessions. Part of his cases settled on the judicial level, the league has therefore decided to tackle his case on the disciplinary level.
According to ESPN, the quarterback’s hearing before the independent officer — appointed by the NFL and players’ union — is scheduled to begin Tuesday. Although former Delaware District Court judge Sue L. Robinson’s decision could apparently be made in less than a week, things could stretch until the start of training camp scheduled for July 27. The league and the NFLPA have effected the ability to appeal, under revised rules of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy, introduced in the new collective bargaining agreement. Roger Goodell or an independent arbitrator would then render a final verdict.
Several concurring sources (Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, ESPN) report that the NFL intends to plead in favor of an indefinite suspension, which would last at least a year. She wishes to base her request on the testimony of certain complainants.
Watson will be defended by the players union (NFLPA). According to Mary Kay Cabot (cleveland.com), he intends to oppose a suspension without pay of his client. He wants to base his argument on the lack of harsh penalties against NFL owners implicated in cases of sexual misconduct.
For the Browns, the absence of the 26-year-old player could be detrimental on the field side, but it would have a lesser impact on the salary plan. According to the regulations, a suspension of a full season would result in the interruption of the contract for one year. His scheduled $1 million salary in 2022 would be moved to 2023, supplanting the $46 million he was due to earn next year. He would also be tied with the Browns for one more season, until 2028.