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NFL appeals Deshaun Watson's six-game suspension


August 05, 2022

Content warning: The following contains discussion of sexual violence.

The GIST: Just ahead of last night’s preseason opener, the NFL kicked off what’s likely to be a messy off-field legal battle, appealing Cleveland Browns quarterback (QB) Deshaun Watson’s measly six-game suspension in hopes of a tougher penalty, after multiple women accused the QB of sexual assault. Is the league doing something…right?

The details: After independent arbitrator Sue L. Robinson issued Watson a slap on the wrist on Monday, the league exercised their collectively bargained right to appeal her ruling, asking for an indefinite suspension that would include a minimum full-season ban, a fine (notably absent in the initial decision) and mandatory treatment.

  • Yesterday, commissioner Roger Goodell, who many initially believed would hear the appeal himself, selected former New Jersey attorney general Peter C. Harvey to do the honors, citing the need for an “expedited” process. Tick tock.

What’s next: It could be a long road ahead. Even if the league follows their proposed speedy appeals timeline, the NFL Players Association (PA) — who reportedly advocated for no suspension — will likely challenge the appeal ruling in federal court, which could take months to resolve.

  • From there, the NFLPA could file a temporary restraining order against the suspension to keep Watson on the field until the case is closed. Umm, trash.

The bigger picture: The timeline might be murky, but one thing’s crystal clear: the NFL’s personal conduct policy is in need of a serious overhaul.