An NFLPA lawsuit on behalf of Deshaun Watson likely wouldn’t impact first six games of season

Cleveland Browns Training Camp
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Although both Tom Brady and Ezekiel Elliott lost their legal wars against the NFL, both secured important initial victories. They were permitted to keep playing while the lawsuits challenging their suspensions proceeded.

This experience has caused many to assume that, if the NFL Players Association files a lawsuit on behalf of Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson after (as expected) the NFL dramatically increases the six-game suspension imposed on Watson by Judge Sue L. Robinson, Watson will be available for the regular-season opener at Carolina, and all other games until his case is resolved. That’s unlikely to happen here, for two reasons.

First, unless the NFLPA files by Thursday an appeal of the six-game suspension, the six games become a given. The question becomes whether Watson will be able to play as of Week Seven, at Baltimore. Neither the Brady nor Elliott cases included the wrinkle that Watson presents, with the player not fighting an existing suspension, but objecting to something longer than that.

Second, a court order allowing a player to play while litigation proceeds is not easy to get. The judge looks at various factors, including the likelihood that the player will prevail on the merits of his case. If the NFL files the first lawsuit (more on that in a separate post) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York before the NFLPA sues in a forum that would be more inclined to be favorable to Watson, the controlling precedent (thanks to the Brady and Watson cases) will bolster the argument that Watson is likely to lose his case.

Remember, judges like it when private parties create their own system for resolving disputes. Judges, who aren’t paid by the hour or by the case, prefer not to get involved. The NFL and NFLPA have created a system for imposing and resolving discipline under the Personal Conduct Policy. Barring evidence that the NFL in some significant way deviated from the agreed-to terms, the case really should end with the NFL’s appeal ruling.

30 responses to “An NFLPA lawsuit on behalf of Deshaun Watson likely wouldn’t impact first six games of season

  1. It would financially hurt the Browns and Watson more if he missed 2023 games instead of 2022.

  2. Watson’s money kicks in next year. He wouldn’t be stupid enough to appeal this slap on the wrist (or is he?).

  3. NFL disciplinary process is a sham. If the league doesn’t like what their designee (the judge) decides, they simply allow themselves (the commisioner) to change the ruling. Makes zero sense!

  4. I thought he could pay back salary and use the time spent on exempt list towards the suspension. I am sure he wouldn’t pull that card for the 6 games but if NFL goes a year or 2 suspension….

  5. Minimum one year suspension! Preferably two years! A Six game suspension is a joke! Watson should not be allowed to play for a long, long time!

  6. Watson is probably so stressed out with NFL’s appeal that he probably needs a good massage to relax those tense muscles.

  7. If the NFLPA didn’t want a situation like this, it shouldn’t have agreed to the CBA. The NFLPA signed on to a legal agreement giving the league and the Commissioner this authority.

  8. OMFG it would be AWESOME if Watson was suspended into the 2023 season. He might then feel like he has lost something and maybe, just maybe, he might not offend again.

  9. Are you saying with a straight face the NFL and the NFLPA have created a system for resolving disipline that comes to a final resolution only with the NFL’s final ruling? What is the motivation for the judge to even care or do their job when their decision has absolutely ZERO weight? What a sham to the players and to the public.

  10. Watson has a rediculous guaranteed contract. I wonder the union members feel about their dues going to pay the legal costs for a completely avoidable non football related situation. Rodger can’t do the right thing, he works for Haslam. Time for an off the record call between Rodger and the Union. That’s how business is done.

  11. This process appears scripted….Federal Judge states the bidding at 6 games…No fine!!. The Shield demands indefinite, with 17 games a start.
    Both sides already know the final outcome:
    10 games
    10 million
    Quickly

  12. This process appears scripted….Federal Judge states the bidding at 6 games…No fine!!. The Shield demands indefinite, with 17 games a start.
    Both sides already know the final outcome:
    10 games
    10 million

  13. The NFL will not file the first lawsuit. The potential merits of Watson winning on appeal are well grounded in the league failing to punish owners for similar behavior. Robinson’s ruling cites cases dating to 2015.

    In short, I would expect the NFLPA to file suit to challenge the 6 games and also run to court when Goodell (or his designee) make their decision.

    The league is in a terrible spot here. They know it and the NFLPA knows it.

  14. The agreement for a arbiter includes an appeal for both sides. It’s in the contract of 2yrs ago.

  15. Remember the NFL and NFLPA (ie the players, ie the player, Watson) agreed to this process.

  16. Did the judge highlight that he was effectively suspended all 2021? I would argue time served.

  17. Criminals on the field. Criminals in the front office. Who will be first to stop watching and paying?

  18. It has already been decided in court that Goodell can do whatever he wants. They beat Tom Brady in court, and he had mother nature on his side.

  19. Watson will miss a year. For those counting that makes two in row. Baker should have stayed..chin strapped up..and assuming health taken this offensively loaded team to the playoffs. Then see ya.

  20. Watson was never on the exempt list, Watson quit on the Texans, his teammates and his fans.

  21. J Schwindt says:
    August 3, 2022 at 7:58 pm
    I thought he could pay back salary and use the time spent on exempt list towards the suspension. I am sure he wouldn’t pull that card for the 6 games but if NFL goes a year or 2 suspension….

    Watson was never on the exempt list. He voluntarily agreed to sit out the 2021 season while the Houston Texans attempted to trade him.

  22. alvinmack says:
    August 3, 2022 at 7:47 pm
    How’s that trade working out for you Cleveland?

    *****************************************
    Just fine thanks!

  23. I will never understand how Cleveland didn’t put conditions to their Houston draft pics.

    Like at least be able to delay the ones a year if watson doesn’t play or eliminate giving the 2024 pick if the 2023 one ended up being top 10. Now the browns will end up likely being trash in 2023 and lose a high pick in 2023 then start a qb who is likely 32 months removed from an actual game.

    This is an all time fleecing.

  24. It’s amazing that another group of billionaires hasn’t gotten together to fund a new league that immediately can (and does) pay absolute top dollar for the best players coming out of college. Almost akin to the original USFL but on a larger, grander scale. A scale so big that even NFL FA’s would run to the new money, ala pro golfers. I’m not saying I’m in favor or disfavor of it, but the NFL sure seems ripe for the taking. It’s amazing big money from somewhere hasn’t emerged.

  25. He may as well sit out the first 6 games since that appears to be the minimum punishment anyhow. If I were Watson, I’d at least want that certainty.

  26. Can you imagine if he does not play this year? You really think that he will not resort to similar behavior? Idle time might be really bad for Watson.

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