Plenty of rumors have flown around Deshaun Watson’s impending suspension in recent weeks, but the most recent one may be very good news for the Cleveland Browns.
According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, Judge Sue L. Robinson will likely issue a suspension in the range of two to eight games.
Watson is facing discipline for 20-plus civil suits involving sexual harassment from massage therapy appointments.
“Whether the league would appeal such an outcome,” Mike Florio wrote. “And whether Commissioner Roger Goodell or his designee would impose a dramatically longer ban, remains to be seen.
“The case presented by the NFL ultimately focused on four alleged violations; the fifth (based on media reports and not an interview of the accuser) is not part of the decision-making process. Judge Robinson, after considering the evidence presented to her and making specific findings of fact, will apply the terms of the Personal Conduct Policy to the facts and determine whether and to what extent Watson should be punished.”
Florio added that a key part of the low suspension is language in the CBA holding owners to a higher standard than players.
“One of the strongest arguments on Watson’s behalf comes from the plain language of the policy,” Florio wrote. “‘Ownership and club or league management have traditionally been held to a higher standard and will be subject to more significant discipline.’
“At the hearing, the NFLPA focused on owners who either weren’t punished at all or whose punishments require a player like Watson to receive a lesser sanction. Since the hearing, the Texans have settled 30 claims against them specifically for their alleged role in Watson’s alleged sexual misconduct.”
Watson has already settled 20 of 24 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and harassment during massage therapy sessions. His former team, the Houston Texans, have settled 30 claims over the organization’s role in those allegations.
If Sue Robinson decides Watson should be suspended for a year, or the NFL appeals her decision and increases Watson’s suspension to that level, Watson’s camp has already decided it will pursue action in federal court against the NFL.