The NFL informed the NFLPA that it will appeal disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson’s decision on Watson’s suspension on Wednesday afternoon. Commissioner Roger Goodell will determine who will hear the appeal. Under the CBA, Goodell has the option to consider the appeal himself as well. The NFLPA has two business days to file in writing a response to the appeal.
The NFL will be seeking an indefinite suspension of at least one year, according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones.
Early Wednesday, ESPN reported that the NFLPA was preparing to sue the NFL in federal court if it appealed Robinson’s decision.
Watson recently faced 24 civil lawsuits that accused him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions during his time with the Houston Texans. He has since settled on 23 of those suits — three on Monday prior to Robinson’s ruling. Watson, who has denied any wrongdoing, was not indicted on criminal charges by two Texas grand juries earlier this offseason.
“On Monday, Judge Sue L. Robinson, the independent Disciplinary Officer jointly appointed by the NFL and NFL Players Association, issued her ruling in the Personal Conduct Policy matter regarding Deshaun Watson,” the league said in a statement, via NFL Media. “Under the 2020 NFL-NFLPA collective bargaining agreement (‘CBA’), the factual findings of the Disciplinary Officer are binding and may not be appealed. Judge Robinson found that Mr. Watson violated the NFL’s personal-conduct policy on multiple occasions and suspended him for six games. The CBA affords the NFL or NFLPA the right to appeal the discipline imposed by the Disciplinary Officer. Such an appeal must be filed within three days and would be heard by the Commissioner or his designee.
“The NFL notified the NFLPA that it will appeal Judge Robinson’s disciplinary decision and filed its brief this afternoon. Commissioner Roger Goodell will determine who will hear the appeal.”
Robinson’s ruling was revealed on Monday morning, as the Browns began their second week of training camp. Watson did not issue a statement after the ruling, Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslem issued their own statement shortly after the suspension was made public knowledge.
“Throughout this process, Deshaun and his representatives have abided by the newly created and agreed upon process for the NFLPA and the NFL to defer to the objective Judge Sue L. Robinson to comprehensively review all information and make a fair decision. We respect Judge Robinson’s decision, and at the same time, empathize and understand that there have been many individuals triggered throughout this process.
“We know Deshaun is remorseful that this situation has caused much heartache to many and he will continue the work needed to show who he is on and off the field, and we will continue to support him.”
As it currently stands, Watson will miss at least the first six games of the 2022 season. In the interim, Cleveland’s starting quarterback will be Jacoby Brissett, who logged 37 career starts during his time with the Patriots, Colts and Dolphins.