NFL, NFLPA briefs due today in Deshaun Watson case

Cleveland Browns Offseason Workout
Getty Images

The hearing ended 11 days ago. At some point today, the NFL and NFL Players Association will be submitting their written paperwork to Judge Sue L. Robinson regarding the question of whether Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson should, or shouldn’t, be suspended.

It’s technically called a post-hearing brief. It’s a common step in a situation like this, where one person hears the evidence, determines the facts, and applies the relevant law (here, the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy) to those facts.

Judge Robinson eventually will make a decision. She will (or at least should) prepare a lengthy, written ruling that identifies the specific things that she believes happened, or doesn’t believe happened. She will (or at least should) explain carefully how the policy does, or doesn’t, point to discipline.

The league will (or at least should) make her entire written ruling available for review by fans and media. (Since it doesn’t involve a team or an owner, the league probably will.)

A decision could come at any time. I’ll be watching the week of July 25, with the possibility of a decision coming on Friday, July 22. If she generates a ruling too quickly, it may seem rushed. She needs the public to understand and accept her findings and reasoning. Part of achieving that is to wait just long enough so that people will believe that she spent enough time working on it.

A settlement also could come at any time. As someone said last week, an agreed resolution isn’t likely while the lawyers are running the hourly meter on generating the written briefs. Once the paperwork is in, maybe the lawyers can bill some time to trying to negotiate a deal.

It still won’t be easy, especially for the league. Above all else, the NFL can’t afford to be perceived as being too lenient with Watson. Judge Robinson’s decision will give the league cover, if she decides that he shouldn’t be punished to the extent that the NFL wants him to be punished.

And, yes, public reaction is critical. The entire Personal Conduct Policy apparatus is a P.R. tool. The vast majority of American employers do not discipline or discharge employees based on off-duty misconduct. As long as the employee is able to show up for work (and isn’t, you know, in prison), it’s not the employer’s business.

The NFL, with the agreement of the NFLPA, has made off-duty behavior its business, because it believes fans will be less enthusiastic about paying for tickets or watching games if the NFL shrugs at players, coaches, executive, owners, etc. who do things while not at work that result in arrests or charges or allegations or some combination of the three.

This will be the first application of the new procedure crafted by the league and union in 2020. And, as it was under the old procedure, Commissioner Roger Goodell continues to have final say — unless Judge Robinson finds that Watson shouldn’t be disciplined at all.

21 responses to “NFL, NFLPA briefs due today in Deshaun Watson case

  1. I’m in the old school camp that believes that whatever I do on my time is my business, and not my employers business unless my actions involved something, or someone, related to my employment. Having said that I have never worked under a union contract that has RULES that were agreed upon by my union, and my employer, and that’s why I believe it does matter what he’s alleged to have done, and it does appear that he has violated the personal conduct policy by damaging the league, and former teams brand. I’ll be shocked if she doesn’t drop the hammer on him, and I’m sticking to my original comment that she’s going to suspend him indefinitely with a review after 1 year. That satisfies the public’s demands for some type of punishment, and it then puts the pressure back on the league to decide if he’s served enough time after this season to come back next year, or if there are more and more cases then they can keep him off the field

  2. The NFL should ask for a season and a half without pay and let the judge nudge this toward a year suspension. Anything less is an insult to the victims. Had DeeShawn been properly guided by counsel, he would have settled with the first ankle-biters and kept this from blowing up. He now gets to face the music.

  3. I have the very unpopular opinion he will get little to no suspension. What Goodell does on an appeal is another story. I base this on plain common sense. Sue Robinson is a retired judge. As such, she’ll leave the emotion out of it and look at what the personal conduct policy says and the individual facts of the the NFL’s case where they allegedly used 5 cases. Florio has already reported the six game suspension standard in the personal conduct polcy involves violence and/or coercion to which he reported the NFL acknowledged none existed in their 5 cases. As far as conduct detrimental to the leagues image, as a former jurist do you really think she’s going to discipline him over 4 outstanding civil allegations, which have as yet not been proven when he has already gotten a green light criminally? Highly unlikely. Like I said, if the NFL appeals Goodell may throw the book at him because with Goodell emotion seems to run his decisions. As fot everyone saying look at Zeke or Big Ben…remember that was purely Goodell and his emotions doing the sentencing.

  4. I really hope Goodell does the right thing if he cares about women like he’s says. Should be lifetime ban the End. But I’m sure he will get maybe 8-12 games.

  5. It does not matter. Player contracts are indentured service contracts, which have remained in effect since the 18th century. The merchant landowners (i.e. team owners) will decide the use and resource of the property (the stadia) and the indentured contractor (the player). Royalty’s decision will apply and supersede any and all previous judgments. Contrary arguments, regardless of public scrutiny, will remain null.

  6. He will get 25 games, 17 will be wiped out with payback of last years salary and he will miss 8 games in 2022 season.

  7. League CAN, in fact, afford to appear too lenient on Watson. I can give you more than fifteen billion reasons to support my claim.

  8. The fix has been in on this from the first day Browns owner called Goodell and said “We want to give Watson a record breaking contract. What’s the most time off you will give him?” And Goodell said “Up to a year.” That’s why the Browns gave Watson a contract in which he loses very little money for his year’s suspension. Everything that’s happened since then has been window dressing.

  9. usmutts3 says:
    July 11, 2022 at 12:34 pm
    The fix has been in on this from the first day Browns owner called Goodell and said “We want to give Watson a record breaking contract. What’s the most time off you will give him?” And Goodell said “Up to a year.” That’s why the Browns gave Watson a contract in which he loses very little money for his year’s suspension. Everything that’s happened since then has been window dressing.

    It is truly amazing how some people will believe any conspiracy theory. Please explain why the Commissioner would agree to work with the Browns, and why he would go along with a fully guaranteed contract that the other teams despise?

  10. It’s really very simple. There is no evidence that Watson did anything wrong. Hence, no punishment…Unless the NFL wants to revisit Kraft, Jones and Snyder.

  11. It’s really amazing how some people will believe the theory that the commissioner is somehow independent and kindly agrees to work WITH the owners rather than actually working FOR them at their pleasure and who’s only job is to protect the owners investments.

  12. Should they be talking about briefs in a Watson headline. Or, maybe there should have been briefs, then this whole thing wouldn’t have started.

  13. Over/Under how many hours passed the deadline the NFL requests an extension

  14. 6 games is the maximum suspension she can rule however since Jones, Kraft and Snyder have received 0, the only ruling is 0 games. Play on

  15. Fact is many of us are held to a higher standard of duty or away from work…. if you work in education, law enforcement, public office, etc. we are held to a higher standard when away from the office. The difference is audience, or rather the size of the audience. Most of us are not worth millions and recognized wherever we go

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.