If Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson receives a one-year suspension following an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct, he and the NFL Players Association have already prepared their counter and will file a lawsuit against the NFL.
If the NFL or arbitrator Sue Robinson suspends Watson for a year, he and the players union will file a lawsuit in federal court, Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson reported.
On the July 6 episode of Keyshawn, JWill & Max, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported that the NFL had proposed an indefinite suspension for Watson, who could apply for reinstatement after 12 games.
Per Graziano, Watson was “still not interested in signing up for that indefinite suspension.”
Watson’s representatives were arguing in front of Robinson that the three-time Pro Bowler should avoid a suspension, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk also reported. Any settlement that resulted in a 12-game ban “would not be a serious offer.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell can’t issue a suspension on his own, under the terms of the most recent collective bargaining agreement.
If the disciplinary officer, Robinson in this case, deems a player violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy, then Goodell can modify the length of any ban.
In terms of doling out punishment, that still gives the commissioner a lot of latitude.
The “growing sentiment” around the league is that Watson will be eligible for the Browns sometime in the middle of the 2022 NFL season, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
After numerous women came forward with allegations of misconduct, Watson has yet to face any formal consequences from the NFL. While in effect on paid suspension, he didn’t play a single snap in 2021. The Houston Texans made him a healthy scratch for each of their games.
A second Texas grand jury declined to indict the 26-year-old on criminal charges stemming from the allegations, in March. Also, Watson settled 20 of the 24 outstanding civil lawsuits filed against him.
It wouldn’t be the first time an NFL star attempted to fight the outcome at the highest judicial levels if Watson is handed a yearlong suspension and files an appeal. In 2016, Tom Brady was unsuccessful when he appealed his four-game suspension stemming from the Deflategate controversy.