Future Unclear For QB Deshaun Watson
The initial ruling was imposed by former federal judge Sue L. Robinson. Watson had been accused by some two dozen women of inappropriate sexual behaviour reported to have taken place during massage sessions. This had been during the time when Watson played for the Houston Texans.
Watson A New “Standard”
According to Robinson, who passed her ruling as part of a 16-page report, Watson’s behaviour is possibly the most shocking ever to have been reviewed by the league.
Watson’s punishment marks the first case handled by Robinson following her joint appointment by the NFL Players Association and the NFL.
Since Robinson’s ruling falls far short of the suspension of at least one year, as recommended by the league, the NFL earlier this week appealed the decision, as per the provisions of the collective bargaining agreement.
The players’ union now has the right to respond, and will have to do so in writing, and before end-of-business on Friday. Should it choose to do so, the union could even oppose the appeal ruling before a federal court, which could mean a protracted legal battle.
This marks the first time that the NFL Players’ Association and the league made use of a jointly appointed disciplinary legal officer to determine a punishment following the violation of the NFL’s code of conduct. Previously, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had been solely responsible for passing down penalties.
NFL Pushed For A Huge Fine
According to a top league official, the league is eager to avoid an appeal. The decision to appeal was only made following a huge backlash from fans and the media.
The official, who asked to remain anonymous due to the private nature of the hearing, furthermore confirmed that the NFL had wanted to fine Watson at least $5m for his wrongdoing.
Watson has remained on with the Browns while awaiting the outcome to his case. This has led to many questions regarding the league’s approach to player behaviour – not to mention its general stance towards women.
The situation surrounding Watson has placed the Cleveland Browns in a state of limbo, as it isn’t yet clear whether Watson will be permitted to compete this season.
Watson played four seasons with the Houston Texans before being traded to the Browns in March this year.