The NFL has decided to appeal the six-game suspension Deshaun Watson received for sexual misconduct from the appointed disciplinary officer.
As content as Deshaun Watson, the NFLPA and the Browns were with his six-game suspension, the NFL definitely is not.
Disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson found that Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy by engaging in unwanted sexual behavior, calling the quarterback’s behavior predatory and barring him from seeing massage therapists from outside the Browns organization.
Despite that, she went far below the punishment desired by the league by giving Watson a six-game suspension.
The NFL is now appealing that decision, according to Ian Rapoport.
Deshaun Watson update: NFL makes the right call on suspension
Make no mistake, the NFL is not on Watson’s side here. By appealing, the league is rejecting the six games handed down by Robinson with an eye on more significant punishment.
The NFL and NFLPA brought in Robinson as an independent arbiter for Watson’s disciplinary hearing, but the appeal will put the ball back in the league’s court. Commissioner Roger Goodell could hear the appeal himself or assign whoever he wants to hear it instead.
Suffice it to say, it’s unlikely Watson will escape with the six games alone. The question now is how severe the NFL will look to go.
There had been murmurings of the league offering a 12-game suspension as a deal for Watson. The NFL could certainly decide to suspend him for a whole season.
The fact that Robinson sided with the NFL on the violation of the personal conduct policy should give the league the ammunition to go forward with the punishment they choose, though the NFLPA is sure to fight it.
Watson settled two dozen civil lawsuits pertaining to misconduct with Houston-area masseuses during his time with the Texans. He is alleged to have used his position of power to sexually harass and abuse massage therapists, from making them uncomfortable to pressuring them into committing sex acts.