Thursday September 28, 2023

Deshaun Watson Decision Could Come After Browns Start Camp

  • The retired federal judge serving as the disciplinary officer has no set deadline to render a decision.
  • The NFLPA is likely to file a lawsuit in federal court if Watson receives a one-year suspension, per one report.
Watson Decision
Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports
Front Office Sports Today

Bucks Go All-In on Giannis Era

The Milwaukee Bucks altered the NBA by swinging a deal for Damian Lillard.
Listen Now
September 28, 2023 | Podcast
Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

A dozen days before the Cleveland Browns open training camp, quarterback Deshaun Watson and much of the football world still awaits the decision by retired U.S. district court judge Sue L. Robinson. 

The three-day hearing, during which the NFL argued for an indefinite suspension for the many claims of sexual misconduct leveld against Watson, concluded June 30. 

The collective bargaining agreement doesn’t mandate a deadline for rulings on alleged violations of the personal conduct policy, although the CBA states a decision should be rendered by the disciplinary officer “as soon as practicable.”

There are a few possibilities why Robinson is taking her time. 

  • This is the first major test of the new system since the current CBA was ratified before the 2020 season. A disciplinary officer like Robinson gets to make the initial ruling on a punishment — not NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. 
  • This case is complex. While Watson was sued by 24 women (and settled with all but four), two grand juries chose not prosecute him. Watson has denied all the allegations. 
  • While anyone under the NFL’s personal conduct policy can be punished without an arrest or conviction, Robinson determines the credibility of the accusers. 
  • There’s also a downside to rushing a decision before players report to training camp. 

Ray Rice was suspended two games at the start of Baltimore Ravens training camp in July 2014. TMZ released the elevator video of Rice’s assault on his now-wife in early September, leading the Ravens to suspend Rice indefinitely and then cut him.

The NFL developed a new domestic violence policy with a baseline six-game suspension — a direct result of its handling of the Rice case — and has worked to improve its investigative efforts. 

Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson reported Monday that a decision on Watson could come after the Browns open training camp on July 30. The NFLPA is also likely to head to federal court if Watson is suspended for the entire 2022 season, according to Robinson.

Goodell vs. The Courts

The new disciplinary system pushed for by the NFLPA was supposed to make a court challenge less likely. 

Even under the old system, where Goodell made the initial and final determination on punishments for Tom Brady (Deflategate) and Ezekiel Elliott (domestic violence allegations), the federal court system ultimately upheld Goodell’s authority. 

There’s one wrinkle that could give Watson a sliver of hope in the federal courts. While Goodell doesn’t have the initial say, he still has the final one. If he isn’t happy with Robinson’s decision, he could tack on more games to a suspension. 

But since that authority was agreed to by the NFL Players Association, that would be a long shot. 

“If Judge Robinson imposes any discipline at all — even just one game — and Roger Goodell increases it on appeal to an indefinite suspension of at least one year, a federal court lawsuit would still be an uphill battle,” said Dan Wallach, a sports legal analyst and co-host of the “Conduct Detrimental” podcast.

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

NFL concussions

The NFL’s $1B Battle Over Concussion Settlement Heats Up

The NFL is seeking at least $1.2 billion from its risk carriers.
A Chicago Bears helmet.

Arlington Heights Looks To Break Stadium Logjam With Bears

Village board cites striking Bears deal as its top priority

NFL's Swift Mania Starting To Show Impact Through Merch Sales, Viewership

Taylor Swift stole the NFL's spotlight by attending Sunday's Chiefs game.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow throws a pass in the first quarter of the NFL game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams at Paycor Stadium.

NFL Fans Can Now Bet On Games While Streaming

BetVision will allow users to bet while watching NFL games.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

Bucks Go All-In on Giannis Era


Featured Today


BioSteel Bankruptcy Shows Perils of Costly Sports Partnerships

BioSteel spent heavily on partnerships deals before bankruptcy.
Taylor Swift at Chiefs vs. Bears game.
September 27, 2023

Taylor Swift NFL Hype Likely To Continue Another Week

Swift could drive blockbuster TV ratings for NBC's "Sunday Night Football."
September 27, 2023

Lillard And Giannis Pairing Could Be Big For The NBA, Too

Bucks to be featured on national TV 19 times this season
September 27, 2023

Magic Johnson Open To Knicks Minority Ownership Stake

Basketball Hall of Famer only interested in specific NBA franchise


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Chicago Cubs
New York
Tri Star Sports and Entertainment Group, Inc.
USA - Multiple Locations
Patrick Reed

Judge Dismisses Both of Patrick Reed’s Defamation Cases

A federal judge dismissed both of Patrick Reed’s defamation cases.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence is among the FTX endorsers who have reached a settlement for their roles in promoting the crypto exchange.
September 18, 2023

Trevor Lawrence Settles Lawsuit Over FTX Crypto Endorsement

Lawrence has settled while other FTX athlete endorsers still face lawsuits.
Lane Kiffin
September 15, 2023

Ole Miss Football Player Files $40M Lawsuit Against Lane Kiffin, School

Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin is being sued by one of his players.
Senate Hearings
September 13, 2023

Senate Subpoenas Saudi Investment Fund Records in PGA Tour Inquiry

Senate hearing reveals deep concerns about the potential PGA Tour-LIV deal.
Jim Trotter
September 12, 2023

Reporter Jim Trotter Sues NFL, Alleges NFL Owner Made Racist Remark

Trotter alleged Terry Pegula made a "highly offensive and racist" remark.
Michael Irvin
August 31, 2023

Potential Trial in Michael Irvin’s Lawsuit Against Marriott Many Months Off

Irvin returned to the air this week as a contributor on FS1’s “Undisputed”.
Brett Favre sues Shannon Sharpe, Pat McAfee, and Mississippi State Auditor Shad White .
August 29, 2023

Brett Favre’s Attorneys Mount Challenge Over Text Messages in Welfare Funds Lawsuit

Favre is among more than 40 defendants in the civil case.