After the NFL’s 15-month investigation into sexual harassment claims against Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, a decision on how or whether Watson will be subject to the league’s personal conduct policy is expected Monday.
all. Robinson, a retired federal judge appointed jointly by the NFL and the NFL Players Association to oversee player discipline, notified both the league and the players’ union Sunday morning that he would issue a ruling Monday, according to two of the people. Robinson Communication Skills. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because Robinson has not discussed the process publicly.
More than two dozen women have accused Watson of sexual coercion and lewd behavior toward women he hired to massage between the fall of 2019 and March 2021, when he was a member of the Houston Texans. Twenty-four women filed civil lawsuits against Watson, and 20 were settled in June. Watson denied the claims, and grand juries in two Texas counties declined to indict Watson.
Among the actions prohibited by the League’s Personal Conduct Policy are sexual misconduct, actions that endanger the safety and well-being of another person, and anything that undermines the integrity of the League.
The Browns traded Watson in March after the first grand jury declined to indict him, but before a second did and awarded him a five-year, $230 million fully guaranteed contract. The decision to discipline Watson was widely anticipated, not only as a result of the Browns’ investment in him, but also because the breadth of allegations against Watson set it apart from any other personal conduct case handled by the league.
The league and Watson’s representatives were unable to negotiate a mutually agreed-upon discipline, leaving the initial decision in Robinson’s hands. He oversaw a three-day hearing in late June in which the NFL recommended that Watson be suspended indefinitely and required to wait at least a full season before reapplying, while the union and Watson’s representatives argued for a longer ban. It was the NFL’s first personal conduct case heard by a disciplinary officer in place of commissioner Roger Goodell, under the protocol established by the 2020 collective bargaining agreement.
The league and the players’ association had three business days after Robinson’s decision to submit a written appeal to be reviewed by Goodell or his designee. But the players’ union said Sunday night — before Robinson announced the decision — that it would not appeal and called on the NFL to vacate the decision.
“All players, owners, business partners and stakeholders deserve to know that our process is legitimate and will not be undermined based on the whims of the league office,” the union said in a statement. “That’s why, regardless of his decision, DeShawn and the NFLPA will stand by his decision, and we urge the NFL to do the same.”
The NFL began investigating Watson in March 2021, when the defendants’ first lawsuit was filed. League investigators, who do not have subpoena rights, met with 10 women who filed lawsuits against Watson, contemporaneous witnesses, to verify their accounts and other women who worked with Watson.