On Tuesday, Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson‘s disciplinary hearing began.
NFL and Player’s Association representatives met in Delaware to make their respective arguments regarding Watson’s allegations of sexual misconduct.
For well over a year, Watson has faced numerous lawsuits alleging sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct while he played for the Houston Texans.
And while a grand jury did not indict Watson on any criminal charges, Watson still faced two-dozen civil suits.
20 of those civil suits had been settled prior to the hearing.
Let’s take a look at what to expect from the hearings after day one:
The NFL is reportedly making an aggressive push for a suspension: an indefinite ban that lasts no less than one year.
An indefinite suspension makes sense from the league’s perspective.
The last thing the NFL wants to do is offer a shortened suspension, and reinstate Watson, only to see more lawsuits come to light.
Essentially, an indefinite suspension keeps the decision in Roger Goodell’s hands over when Watson gets to play again.
The aggressive suspension also highlights the fact that the NFL takes Watson’s actions seriously.
That’s not always been the league’s MO when it comes to sexual misconduct or gender-based violence.
The league is pushing for an indefinite suspension that would last no shorter than one year for Deshaun Watson, per @andrewlbeaton pic.twitter.com/WTDSHY2Aoq
— PFF (@PFF) June 25, 2022
In 2014, the NFL botched an investigation into Ray Rice over domestic violence.
The NFL initially suspended Rice for just two games.
However, a video came to light showing Rice’s actions in gruesome detail.
Goodell faced significant backlash and the league attempted to extend Rice’s suspension but was unsuccessful.
Back in 2010, the NFL suspended Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger for six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
The suspension stemmed from allegations of sexual assault earlier that year.
The league coming in with a significant suspension request represents a major departure from previous suspensions offered up by the league.
The hearing is being heard by Sue Robinson.
Robinson is a former US district judge who was jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA to be a league disciplinary officer.
Player’s Association Response
The NFLPA’s job is to represent the interest of players, full stop.
That includes opposing player suspensions, generally full-stop.
Thus far, the NFLPA is requesting no suspension for Watson.
In addition, the NFLPA is likely to draw comparisons between Watson’s case and league owners who have been accused of similarly awful behavior:
“Watson’s team will argue that while Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones have each faced allegations of sexual misconduct, none of them has received a punishment as significant as the one that Watson is facing.”
The two sides can still technically agree on a suspension.
The disciplinary hearing for #Browns QB Deshaun Watson in front of jointly appointed Judge Sue Robinson has adjourned for the day. The expectation is that it’ll continue tomorrow.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 28, 2022
But given how far apart the two parties are, that’s highly unlikely.
The hearing is set to resume on Wednesday.
Don’t expect a ruling any time soon, however.
It’s unclear how long exactly the hearings will last, but some expect the hearings to last several days.
Should Robinson rule in favor of a suspension against Watson, Watson will presumably appeal the decision directly to the NFL League Office.
Regardless, the Browns face a bad situation, but one that they completely created themselves.
At this point, it’s hard to see how Watson suits up this season, and rightfully so.
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