The NFL on Wednesday appealed the six-game suspension handed down to Deshaun Watson on Monday.
The Cleveland Browns quarterback is under investigation for sexual assaults on several women, most of them massage therapists by profession.
The NFL believes that Deshaun Watson violated its code of conduct. The League had pleaded for a suspension of at least a full season for Watson, despite the lack of criminal charges against him. No criminal charges have been brought against him, despite civil lawsuits filed by 25 women who have accused him of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior during massage sessions.
Mediator Sue L. Robinson, appointed as disciplinary officer by the NFL and the players’ union (NFLPA), concluded after investigation that a six-game sanction was appropriate against Watson, who never stopped deny any wrongdoing.
« Non-violent » conduct
Ms Robinson delivered her findings on Monday after hearing arguments in June from the league, union and Watson’s attorneys, on five specific cases presented by the NFL. The incidents took place between March 2020 and March 2021. Watson was then a Houston Texans player.
Robinson felt that « Watson’s inappropriate behavior was egregious », but that the cases presented for his judgment showed « non-violent sexual conduct » and did not warrant a harsher punishment than the decided six-match suspension.
The NFL, deeming the sanction against Watson insufficient, informed the players’ union that it would appeal. More than a month from the start of the season, this disciplinary case continues to pose a threat to the immediate future of the star quarterback of the Browns, who signed him in March for a record guaranteed contract of 230 million dollars on five years, knowing that he risked a long-term suspension.