The NFL has appealed Deshaun Watson’s six-game suspension for repeated sexual misconduct with massage therapists, as expected. When the appeal is heard, the Browns quarterback’s ban will almost assuredly be longer. Significantly longer, in all likelihood.
That said, an appeal also improves Watson’s chances to stay on the field in the short term. And play against the Jets in Week 2.
Watson’s widely-criticized suspension was handed down by Judge Sue L. Robinson, a disciplinary officer jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA. But in a collectively bargained quirk, all appeals are heard by league commissioner Roger Goodell or a designee of his choosing. And there is no mechanism to appeal the appeal ruling.
So to sum up: The NFL does not feel Watson’s punishment is sufficient. So it is asking its boss to increase its severity (and probably throw in a heavy fine). How do you think that is going to play out?
The league asked Robinson to hand down an indefinite suspension of at least a year. Watson, his team, the union and the Browns need to brace for that, or close to it. And when it happens, Watson will likely sue the NFL.
Watson has almost no chance to beat the league in court in the end. The CBA is a legally binding document and the NFL will have operated within the parameters of it. But he can muck the process up, waste a lot of money on both sides and delay his suspension. A post-appeal lawsuit will likely trigger some sort of injunction or restraining order that allows Watson to play in the interim. Same as when Tom Brady held off the Deflategate suspension. And since the Jets happen to be on the front end of the schedule, they may have to deal with Watson instead of Jacoby Brissett.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]