The NFL filed an appeal Wednesday against the six-game suspension of Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, according to a league spokesman.
The league challenged the fine issued Monday by a third-party disciplinary officer following a hearing on allegations that Watson engaged in sexually coercive and obscene behavior towards two dozen women he hired for massages. A more significant penalty is expected to be sought, which could include additional lost games and a fine.
Following a process agreed in the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association, the appeal will be heard by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or a person of his choice. The League did not immediately say who would supervise the appeal.
Sue L. Robinson, the retired federal judge appointed jointly by the NFL and the players union to oversee the disciplinary hearing, found that Watson violated the league’s personal conduct policy by engaging in unwanted sexual contact with another person, endangering safety and well-being. be someone else’s and undermine the integrity of the NFL. She suggested in her 16-page report that Watson’s conduct, which she called “predatory” and “egregious”, might have deserved a more severe sanction, but that was limited by league policies and past discipline.
Watson denied the charges against him and two Texas grand juries refused to indict him. Jimmy and Dee Haslam, owners of the Browns, said they would “continue to support” the quarterback who was awarded a $ 230 million fully guaranteed five-year contract in March.
The players union said prior to Robinson’s decision that it would not appeal, but after the suspension was announced on Monday, the NFL released a statement saying it would review its results and “make a decision on next steps. “within three working days. CBA allows for challenges.
The six-game suspension was met with criticism from Tony Buzbee, the attorney who represents most of Watson’s accusers, as well as sports law experts and advocates for victims of sexual abuse. The league had argued with Robinson that Watson deserved at least a full year suspension while the union had fought for a lesser penalty.
The league began its investigation of Watson in March 2021, when Ashley Solis, a licensed masseuse in Houston, became the first of a total of 24 women to sue him. The women said they assaulted or harassed them during massage dates in 2020 and 2021, when Watson played for the Houston Texans. In a brief filed with Robinson, the league wrote that Watson had “used his status as an NFL player as a pretext for engaging in a premeditated pattern of predatory behavior towards multiple women.”