The clock is ticking on the NFL, when it comes to the possible imposition of discipline on Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson. And Watson’s camp has an idea as to when the process may get started.
“We should know what their position is initially sometime in June, and then everybody will figure out if there’s going to be a hearing about it or can people work things out, or whatever,” attorney Rusty Hardin told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Friday. “The only thing that’s certain is that they want to try to get everything done this summer — and earlier than later in the summer. Past that, we don’t really have any firm dates or possibilities.”
Hardin also said that he believes that the league will want to talk to Watson again, presumably before initiating the disciplinary process.
Hardin told Cabot that Watson was questioned for three days this week, by NFL investigators Lisa Friel and Jennifer Gaffney.
“This idea that [the NFL] hasn’t aggressively investigated this is totally, totally false as evidenced by the fact he’s already spent three days with them,’’ Hardin said. “They’ve obviously done a bunch of research and done a lot of work themselves and they say need to do some more.”
That’s fine, but the time is coming for a decision. The process will take time. Under the new procedure adopted in 2020, the league will propose a punishment. The Disciplinary Officer, former federal judge Sue L. Robinson, will take it from there, issuing an initial decision. Then, the Commissioner would handle any appeal — unless Judge Robinson finds that no discipline of any kind should be imposed on Watson. If that happens, the case would end. If any discipline is imposed, the Commissioner has the power on appeal to change the discipline to anything he wants, with no further appeal by Watson or the league.
Before this procedure officially ends, it has to officially start. The sooner it officially starts, the sooner it officially finishes. The sooner it officially finishes, the sooner everyone knows whether and to what extent Watson will be playing in 2022.