NFL Files Appeal Following Deshaun Watson’s Six-Game Suspension Ruling

by Patrick Norton

The NFL is firing back at the disciplinary decision from Sue L. Robinson pertaining to Deshaun Watson. The Cleveland Browns quarterback received a six-game ban and no fine following a controversial hearing in front of the NFL and NFLPA’s jointly appointed disciplinary officer.

The former judge’s findings determined that the league opted to make an example of Watson without fair warning. However, the NFL plans to appeal the decision – citing a lack of precedence.

A statement released through NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy laid out the grounds for appeal. And while the league says Robinson’s findings cannot face an appeal process, the discipline is not exempt.

Deshaun Watson faced 24 civil lawsuits of sexual misconduct following 26 separate accusations of inappropriate behavior. While the quarterback maintains his innocence, Watson settled 20 of the cases with an undisclosed amount.

A member of the Houston Texans when the incidents occurred, Watson met with more than 60 massage therapists without team affiliation. Once a grand jury declared an unwillingness to pursue criminal charges, Houston sent Watson to the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland immediately signed Watson to a massive, fully-guaranteed contract.

The original six-game suspension did not include a fine – an expectation from the league throughout the process. Stepping in for Watson in the meantime is journeyman Jacoby Brissett. The Browns dealt former starting quarterback Baker Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers last month.

How Does The Deshaun Watson Appeal Process Work?

Once Sue L. Robinson notified each party of the punishment, either side had three days to file an appeal. While Watson’s representatives and the NFLPA announced their acceptance of the ruling, the NFL played a more cautious tone. Examining the ruling, the league opted to pursue an appeal.

With the matter out of Robinson’s hands, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell now possesses the opportunity to hand pick who hears the appeal. However, any further suspension likely invites Deshaun Watson to sue the league for an unwillingness to follow the ruling of the disciplinary officer.

Goodell could rule on the appeal himself, but it could hurt the case in the event of advancement to federal court. However, ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reports the league is adamant is requesting an indefinite ban for Watson. In addition to an improvement on term, Darlington also states the NFL’s desire to inflict a significant financial penalty.