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The NFL has decided to appeal the six-game suspension Deshaun Watson received for sexual misconduct from the designated disciplinary officer.
As pleased as Deshaun Watson, the NFLPA and the Browns were with his six-game suspension, the NFL certainly isn’t.
Disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson found that Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy by engaging in unwanted sexual conduct, called the quarterback’s behavior predatory and barred him from seeing massage therapists outside the Browns organization.
Despite that, she fell well short of the punishment the league wanted by handing Watson a six-game suspension.
The NFL is now appealing that decision, according to Ian Rapoport.
Deshaun Watson update: NFL makes the right call for suspension
Make no mistake, the NFL is not on Watson’s side here. On appeal, the league rejects the six games Robinson served in favor of more significant punishment.
The NFL and NFLPA brought in Robinson as an independent referee 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, Watson is unlikely to get away with the six games alone. The question now is how serious the NFL will look to go.
There had been murmurs that the league was offering a 12-game suspension as a deal for Watson. The NFL could certainly decide to suspend him for an entire season.
The fact that Robinson sided with the NFL regarding the violation of the personal conduct policy should give the league ammunition to move forward with whatever punishment they choose, though the NFLPA is sure to fight it.
Watson settled two dozen civil malpractice lawsuits involving massage therapists in the Houston area during his time with the Texans. He is said to have used his position of power to sexually harass and abuse massage therapists, from making them uncomfortable to pressuring them to commit sexual acts.