Report: NFL “more likely” to accept 6-8 game suspension of Deshaun Watson and not appeal

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Not much news has emanated during or after the first day of the Deshaun Watson disciplinary hearing. One specific item of information that has emerged cries out for further analysis and interpretation.

From Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press: “I’m also told the NFL, despite insisting on indefinite suspension, wants to avoid the appeals process — source said ‘a terrible situation for everyone involved’ — so league is more likely to abide by Sue Robinson’s ruling IF she came back with 6-8 games.”

It’s a surprising revelation. If it’s true and accurate (and we’ll defer to Maaddi in that regard), the question becomes what does it mean?

For starters, why would the NFL leak this critical concession? Does it fear that, if Judge Robinson believes the NFL is destined to seize upon an inherently rigged appeal process, she’d be more likely to impose no discipline at all on Watson? After all, that’s the only way under the Collective Bargaining Agreement to prevent any appeal, which would then be resolved by the Commissioner.

It’s hard not to wonder whether it’s all a ruse aimed at getting her to impose some discipline, so that the league could then appeal to the Commissioner, whose employees already have decided that Watson should be suspended for at least a year.

Remember, the Commissioner cannot afford to be perceived as being too lenient with Watson. It would be difficult to sell to anyone the idea that the league has simply accepted something far less than what the NFL wanted, simply to avoid prolonging a “terrible situation.” Given the steps of the process that the NFL and NFL Players Association collectively bargained, the league has the absolute right to take to the Commissioner any decision from Judge Robinson, other than a decision to not discipline Watson at all. Why would the league simply accept Judge Robinson’s decision, if it falls far short of what the league wants?

Frankly, it feels like a rope-a-dope maneuver by the league. By making Judge Robinson believe that the league wouldn’t appeal her decision if it lands in the range of 6-8 games, perhaps she’d be less inclined to find that Watson shouldn’t be disciplined at all, since that’s otherwise the only want to keep the Commissioner from imposing the punishment that the league currently wants. By leaking this to the AP after the first day of the hearings, the league quite possibly is using the media to negotiate with Judge Robinson for moderate discipline, with a wink-nod that her decision wouldn’t be disturbed if it lands in the supposedly preferred range.

If it gets her to impose 6-8 games under the assumption that the league won’t challenge it, the league can then initiate the appeal process and ask for what it wanted in the first place.

Really, how much more “terrible” would the situation become if the league appeals Judge Robinson’s decision to the Commissioner? It’s not as if there  would be another full-blown hearing. That’s happening now. The appeal to the Commissioner would be much more streamlined and efficient. It would take less time and effort. And, by the very language of the CBA, it would allow the Commissioner to implement the very punishment that his office currently is trying to secure.

Anyone who knows anything about the manner in which the league office under the leadership of Roger Goodell has behaved for nearly 16 years knows that the league will be as aggressive as it chooses to be. Despite periodic missteps (including most notably the bungled handing of the Ray Rice case), the Commissioner has lived up to his reputation as The Enforcer. Why would anyone believe that he’d accept a 6-8 game suspension for Watson when the league office is currently pushing for a minimum ban of at least one year?

No, it looks and feels like an effort to get Judge Robinson to think that her ruling will be safe, in order to minimize any temptation to slam the door on the Commissioner’s appellate jurisdiction by finding that Watson shouldn’t be punished at all. And if we’re able to see this, she is, too.

Bottom line? We don’t buy it. And she shouldn’t, either. Nothing leaked to the Associated Press or anyone else is binding on the NFL. Once the league gets the 6-8 game suspension that it now seeks, the league can appeal it to the Commissioner. Some will say, “But I thought they weren’t going to appeal a suspension of that duration?” The league, at that point, can either ignore those questions or simply say, “We never officially said that.”

Given that this is the first application of the new process arising from the 2020 labor deal, there’s no precedent, no history, no past practice. Everyone is plowing new ground, sailing through uncharted waters.

The league has a long history of doing everything it can to get anything it wants. Currently, it wants to suspend Watson for at least a year. It’s very hard to imagine that the league would just shrug and accept 6-8 games, when it knows that it can appeal the case directly to the person who runs the league office for more. Our guess is that the league wants to be sure that Judge Robinson imposes some discipline, so that the Commissioner can than impose the full extent of the discipline the league wants.

52 responses to “Report: NFL “more likely” to accept 6-8 game suspension of Deshaun Watson and not appeal

  1. Wow, you can get a longer ban for smoking weed back in the day than you can for sexual misconduct.

  2. If this is true shame on the NFL! players who have done less sever things get in more trouble then a g uy who is a serial predator of woman!

  3. Eliot got SIX games for far less. Anything less than a year is bogus. And the NFL will lose me as a fan. PERMANENTLY. I refuse to watch and support a league that treats this kind of behavior with LESS than a slap on the wrist.

  4. This year and then look at it again. Anything less and the nfl( small case intentional) looks like a major joke!

  5. This is a bunch of hot air. The suspension will be one year. They do this low-ball stuff so that the real “punishment” seems more severe (it isn’t)

  6. Brady got 4 games for being generally aware. Watson could get 6 games for sexually assaulting 26 women (that we know of). Just saying.

  7. No chance this dope plays in 2022 and I’d bet my life savings on him being out of the league 2 years after he’s allowed to play again. Predators don’t stop preying.

  8. So a player wagers $1500 and gets a full season. Watson has been a predator with 24+ women and gets potentially less than half of a season? The NFL will lose any ability to hold players accountable if this happens. I hope that Watson comes back and is horrible.

  9. Anything less than 1 game for each case he agrees to settle would be a travesty

  10. In which case the Browns season ticket holding fan base could then file a class action lawsuit against Goodell and the league for perpetrating fraudulant activity.

    Also….I hope the fans that are ‘done’ like basketball or hockey.

  11. Hard to believe Ray Rice never got to play again but this piece of work might miss less than half a season? I think I’ll hold up on signing up for Sunday Ticket. I can’t support this garbage.

  12. I told ya. Goodell is the ultimate cheater. There is no “independent” anything.

    The guaranteed money is the dead giveaway. He authorized the trade and the deal for Cleveland.

    It’s disgusting.

  13. 6-8 weeks for the things that Watson has been accused of? That’s a joke. He deserves way more than that.

  14. Bigugly says:
    June 29, 2022 at 10:48 am
    No chance this dope plays in 2022 and I’d bet my life savings on him being out of the league 2 years after he’s allowed to play again. Predators don’t stop preying.


  15. No criminal charges. Period. Complain all you want, if hunter biden can walk free, so should Watson.

  16. So Ricky Williams and Josh Gordon got hefty suspensions for smoking weed because it was the way they like to wine down and not have to use addictive meds to help with injuries but this Watson will get only 6-8 games suspension for sexual assault…

  17. It’s because the Browns were told the punishment would be in the 6-8 games range and they signed him based on that wink and a nod assurance.

  18. It is simple. If the Judge thinks there is a high probability Watson committed SA against multiple women then he should be banned for life.

  19. Remember those embarrassing “no more” commercials the league aired to pander to women? What does the NFL say to those ladies now?

  20. The NFL is about to set some pretty unhealthy precedents for sexual predators in their league.

  21. I hope this happens. Browns will be box office this year if Watson can play. And the OUTRAGE will be hilarious. Bring me the chaos, please!

  22. mrbigass says:
    June 29, 2022 at 1:54 pm

    It’s because the Browns were told the punishment would be in the 6-8 games range and they signed him based on that wink and a nod assurance.



  23. He already missed all of last season. Yeah he held out, but if this wasn’t going on he plays last year. Honestly I don’t know what I want. The Browns were foolish though.

  24. Insane. A dude is suspended a year for smoking weed, another suspended for a year for gambling… But only 6-8 games for this? Wow.

  25. What more do people want? The guy already sat out for a year and then signed up for five years on the Browns. That should be ample enough of a punishment.

  26. I hope this isnt true becauase i love the NFL and I’ve been a fan for almost 60 years. If Goddell does this I’m done for good

  27. Whatever it is, 6 or 8 games and you add last year, so its a year and a half. I know I am going to get pushback but I thinks that fair and if 6 games is offered, he needs to accept it immediately and not appeal.

  28. If Watson gets anything less than a year, it will be the greatest NFL disgrace of all time. The man is a predator, and for the NFL to ignore that in the name of $$$ is a shame (though not a surprise).

  29. Why not put him on paid leave right now he has a low salary for this year already. Tell him this will be looked at again when the cases are all finished. That way he can’t duck league fines next year too.

  30. The most Browns thing to ever happen is the Browns paying DW to be suspended for two seasons – and that’s what’s about to happen.

  31. Voluntarily sitting out a year cuz he didn’t want to play for the Texans anymore can’t be a part of the discipline.

  32. i seriously doubt they would risk their credibility with such a light penalty

    that would be shocking

  33. Tired_Of_Being_Censored says:
    June 29, 2022 at 10:17 am
    Brady got 4 games for being generally aware. Watson could get 6 games for sexually assaulting 26 women (that we know of). Just saying.
    That was not about punishment for crimes against the league. That was an attempt to derail a dynasty. Just saying.

  34. I’m sorry. I’m old school. No conviction, no guilt. Its all hearsay until he faces his accusers in a court of law and a judge/jury convicts him of something.

    I know, where there is smoke there is fire. Now prove he lit it!

  35. What a freakin joke. So he gets the same suspension as a player who gets a DUI? Sure, sounds fair. Gutless league. Just make everything ok for players/coaches and scrap the suspensions because apparently they are meaningless.

  36. I love all the Browns fans on here rationalizing this. “He already sat out a year, blah blah blah.” You’d feel differently if he had done this to your daughter, sister, mother, or wife.

  37. Yea im about to learn the rules of soccer, hockey, whatever it may be to not ever follow the nfl again 6 to 8 games complete by. If there’s any truth to this article I can guarantee the nfl just lost most or many fans most of us fans have sisters, daughters, and mothers

  38. This is the real Deflategate folks. Watson should be made to sit out an entire season, if not longer.

  39. The League Is Recommending A Indefinite Suspension With A Chance To Reinstate After One Year! Upon Completion Of Mandated Counciling And Therapy. Any Other Source That Is Reporting 6 To 8 Games Is A Farce! The Seriousness Of This Issue And His Self Admission Via The 20 Settlements Has Warranted This Type Of Punishment. Not To Mention The Other 6 Settlements That Are Forth Coming.

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