Deshaun Watson case has damaged the relationship between the NFL, NFLPA

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In the aftermath of the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement, thing were as good as they’ve been in years between the NFL and the NFL Players Association. All good things, however, come to an end.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Deshaun Watson case has driven a major wedge between league and union. The relationship has soured, significantly, because of the NFL’s decision to appeal the ruling entered four days ago by the jointly-hired disciplinary officer under the Personal Conduct Policy, retired federal judge Sue L. Robinson.

The union shouldn’t be surprised that it’s gone this way. The 2020 CBA changed the disciplinary procedure, but it allowed the league to retain full authority over the appeal process. Did the union actually think the league would choose not to exercise the power for which it bargained?

Beyond the potential consequences of failing to be sufficiently stringent with players who violate the rights of women, the NFL generally isn’t in the practice of sacrificing its power. It’s exercising its power as a reminder that: (1) it has the power; and (2) if the union wants to change the situation, there’s a way to do it — by giving up something else in exchange for it.

Bottom line? The NFLPA let the league keep control over the appeal process. It would be foolish for the union to think the league was just going to voluntarily throw it away — especially in a case like this one.

60 responses to “Deshaun Watson case has damaged the relationship between the NFL, NFLPA

  1. The union should be thrilled it’s only going to be 8 total games and that Goodell is the cheater who actually authorized the trade in the first place.

    Any other sports league and Watson would be suspended indefinitely.

  2. What relationship is there? The NFL beats the NFLPA like the proverbial red-headed stepchild, thanks to the NFLPA’s disastrous leadership. In the immortal words of Judge Smails: “You’ll get nothing and like it!” is the Shield’s attitude toward the NFLPA. Why should this situation be any different?

  3. Of course it did! I mean I am no fan of Deshaun Watson & legit think he has a problem and will eventually relapse. However, why the heck even have the “pretend” hearing when the NFL was just going to veto whatever the decision the judge made if it didn’t fit what the NFL wanted? What a complete waste of time and showed the NFL acted in bad faith. Bad look on the NFLs part, should have just just suspended him for a year and called it good in the first place. Sheeshh!

  4. The union doesnt have to fight for watson this stringently. They could say you know what he has done is abhorent and he deserves to be punished. Instead they are defending him to the hilt, make me think the NFLPA is perfectly fine with deviant sexual predators in their midsts

  5. The fact that Watson is still in the league is a slap in the face to all of America

  6. I really like this the NFLPA vs Goodell – who is what? The puppet of the owners. And after what has happened in Washington org and Miami org – do I trust the owners? NO – so some other sane ones are pushing this and now facts Watson should have to miss the season – case closed end of argument.Also the NFLPA needs to defend him – that is what all unions need to do – defend those who pay their what? UNION DUES. Now the NFLPA has made a whole bunch of gains over the past few contracts that have not cost the owners much money but have hurt the game. Such as limiting the amount of offseason mandatory work, limiting the number of practices and length practices pre-season and in-season and in season padded practices. So Goodell is correct in at least hoping that Watson gets much more than 6 games – and he deserves a full season – and for him that will not be a happy ending but he probably already had enough of those.

  7. Th NFLPA literally appeals everything.


    They don’t like the league appealing? Too bad.

  8. Who cares? The NFL may be self-serving, but the union defends sexual predators and wants to spike the ball on what is essentially a non-punishment. No one with a mother, wife, sister, or daughter should feel good about the 6 games. He loses a total of $345k on a $250M contract. That’s like a speeding ticket for you and me, and you shouldn’t get a speeding ticket for sexually assaulting 24 women. Why would the NFL want a good relationship with a group like that?

  9. The NFLPA has responsibility to all NFL players and all their concerns.

    Yet they’re prioritizing 1 player, 1 incredibly well paid player?.

    Get upset over the minimum salary for undrafted rookies, or something that impacts a bunch of players who are not making millions. This is an edge case that has never happened before, probably won’t happen ever again, and effects 1 player.

  10. While I think that the NFL is way too reactionary on many cases… it’s impossible for them to foresee some situations and Watsons case of abusing dozens of women in a 2 year span is unique.

    The fact that the NFLPA is fighting for every inch, on a single player with a fully guaranteed deal, proves that they need to have final say on these outlier situations.

  11. Watson has done damage all around with his compulsion for “massages”. The CBA was agreed to by the union,so their complaints will continue to fall on deaf ears. The way that this is playing out doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but there’s no way that 6 games is an adequate punishment.

  12. I wish someone would ask the NFLPA what they think the appropriate punishment should be for someone found guilty of committing sexual assault against around 30 different individuals?

    While the NFL only submitted 4 cases, which the judge found he was guilty, you can then likely assume that he was guilty in the other 26.

  13. Remove the word “case”. Deshaun Watson destroyed the relationship.

  14. This dude ruins everything. Why on earth would the union put all their eggs and good will in the basket of a lying sexual predator. Use someone else to make your case. NFLPA you just lost what little respect anyone had for you for this guy!?! Also NFLPA you agreed to this process. Did you not read what you were signing? Amateurs.

  15. The NFLPA and its members voted to accept the CBA. Because of that, the odds of prevailing against the NFL in court are low.

  16. There are a number of former players that are crying about how unfair this situation is and that the NFL is limiting their rights, blah, blah, blah. I wish someone on whatever platform they put forth this tired narrative would ask them directly — Hypothetical situation Mr. Former player. You and your buddies, teammates, are sitting around playing cards, shooting the breeze, after practice, in the locker room, whenever, wherever and someone asks. Hey guys what do you think would happen or should happen if someone has 24 lawsuits against him and a track record of sexual assault and lied about it?

    If they’re honest, I suspect, their answer would be, “No way that MF’er should be in the league and if for some bizarre reason he is, I hope he’s not on my team.”

  17. I’m a (former) Browns fan. My wife was a massage therapist, and thankfully never encountered the advances of such a pig. Everything was professional. She was also a Browns fan, as we live 15 miles from Cleveland,but no more. The Browns front office needs to be gutted. Absolutely disgusted. Go Baker.

  18. By design, it’s an adversarial system. Each side negotiates their side’s interest for the CBA. The NFLPA agreed to give the League this authority. There really is no recourse for the NFLPA if the suspension/fine is increased upon appeal. Sure; they can file a lawsuit in an attempt to delay the inevitable, but it really won’t go anywhere. Better hope that it’s not an indefinite suspension as the Commissioner may keep it going if there is a lawsuit filed………

  19. The NFL is not a court of law. Everybody knows he did consult 66+ women, but nobody knows how much of these are legitimate plaintiffs, except for those who did testify. This is why, the CBA must not become a pretext for the NFL to act as a totalitarian institution. Going for a year suspension has no foundation. I would go for 12 games plus 8 to 12 millions.

  20. NFLPA leader DeMaurice Smith will offer his best 4- hand massage techniques to the players, hoping they forget his abysmal record, and his growing role as doormat for 32 robber barons.

  21. The union can pout – but they cant complain much in public.
    Doing any more than required to defend Watson here is a bad look.

  22. Here is what saddens me the most, other than the women had to go through these incidents.

    After the NFL/NFLPA arbitrator, in her report, said Watson is guilty. Guilty of lying, guilty of non-violent sexual assault, and guilty of violating the personal conduct policy of the NFL/NFLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement, where are the players, former players and coaches?

    Where is JJ Watt, Clowney, and Dropkins? Where is his former OC and HC Tim Kelly and Bill O’Brien? Why are other players/coaches, good upstanding player/coaches, not speaking out about the fact the NFL/NFLPA arbitrator found Watson guilty of lying, guilty of non-violent sexual assault, and violating the personal conduct policy?

    Why are these folks not speaking out against Watson, after the findings of the NFL/NFLPA arbitrator?

    Why are these folks not saying the 6-game suspension is not enough?

    Why are these folks not being asked questions about Watson incidents?

    This is where the players and the NFLPA are falling short.

    There is only one reason I can think of which is preventing players/coaches from speaking out against Watson.

    We all know what it is!

  23. De Smith is the league’s personal punching bag.. why do you think they leaked the Gruden emails in order to rile up player support for his re-election.

    The players are fools.

  24. Maybe the players should renegotiate a new clause if a player causes harm to a woman, et al then they are out of the league a minimum of two years (like real doping bans, not the petty slap on the wrist for cheaters like the receiver in Arizona) that puts players actions have some real consequences, and fine them for any money earned from the incident until they are suspended. The NFL should have similar rules for owners (more like forced to sell), staff (NFL Office, Network and teams) and coaches. Then they would show they actually care about women rights, so far they have made it loud and clear especially the Browns they all think women are second class citizens. That also makes Pepsi, Ford, Fedex, et al have the same moral standards.

  25. Watson’s real crime was that he gave tbe Texans the finger. Otherwise, none of this sees the light of day. And I still think Watson’s nowhere near as bad as is claimed to be. Robinson was always going to rule in the NFL’s favor and did the NFL’s bidding by labeling Watson a predator and labeling his behavior as “non-violent” assault, stoking public fury. Well played by all. Watson deserved a lot better legal and PR advice.

  26. Bottom line- this is a case the NFL doesn’t want, and won’t win. This one is different. The NFL knows it and so does the NFLPA.

  27. Didn’t the NFLPA literally announce that they would sue before a verdict was even reached? Now they’re pretending to be shocked, shocked I say and upset that the league is following the processes agreed to in the CBA? Get real, people.

  28. Nothing will ever change as long as the majority of current NFL players isn’t willing to sacrifice THEIR money/benefits for future players coming in behind them. Why should they strike and lose a season when the vast majority are in the league less than 5 years?

  29. NFLPA is doing it’s job. But it’s sad. Watson’s continues to deny everything. Yet he settled with 22 women. Money issues and suspensions aside, can we trust there is any accountability or moral character left in our athlete role models? For once, maybe the NFL is trying to do the right thing.

  30. I want him to get zero games… he’s a .500 QB going from the AFC south to the north… good luck… Browns will continue to be the joke of the NFL. OH and they gave a .500 QB who has not played professional football in 2 years… $240 million, guaranteed!
    Thanks, the Flying J franchise

  31. The good people of Cleveland are the ones hurt by all of this. Who, as a fan of the Browns, wants to be in this position? Answer——NO ONE.
    Why doesn’t the Commissioner act in the best interests of the game, the Shield, and the city of Cleveland and force the removal of the owner, Jimmy Haslam? He is the root cause of all of this.

  32. “ I wish someone would ask the NFLPA what they think the appropriate punishment should be for someone found guilty of committing sexual assault”

    Watson hasn’t been found guilty of anything.

  33. Six games was absurd. If he has to sit out the season he should still consider himself lucky under the circumstances.

  34. I wish someone would ask the NFLPA what they think the appropriate punishment should be for someone found guilty of committing sexual assault against around 30 different individuals?

    While the NFL only submitted 4 cases, which the judge found he was guilty, you can then likely assume that he was guilty in the other 26.////////////////////////// That’s not how reality works. The NFL finding someone guilty of something is like me finding someone guilty of something, it don’t hold up as law. And they only did 4 people cause the other people’s testimonies didn’t have enough of a leg to stand on. It’s why it never saw criminal court. No evidence. So assume what you want. That’s not the logical way to handle it, seeing as they all took the money and ran from Watson and the Texans.

  35. Phrases like “damaged the relationship” and “driven a major wedge between” are wide open for interpretation. Is it just that Tretter and Smith are annoyed with Goodell? Will they attempt to get him fired? Are they mad enough to sue him personally? Are they organizing a player revolt? Are the owners mad too? Will they lock the players out? Could there be a strike?

    Oh no, not a strike!!

  36. I have always thought that a union’s biggest downfall is defending even the worst among their ranks. This isn’t and NFLPA exclusive. USW union at a former employer of mine defended a guy who knowingly defeated a safety system on a mill that kept the mill from rolling an 8000 pound piece of 900 degree aluminum into someone. And he left it that way after his shift until we discovered it a couple days later. Fired him immediately (he was on video) only to be forced to rehire and back pay him roughly a year later when everything shook out. That’s what damages relationships not just between union and company, but between the union and its members.

  37. The NFLPA’s primary function is to protect the rights of its members as best as it can within the guidelines of its agreement with the NFL and prevailing Laws. However, the NFLPA should also consider the findings of the Judge. Her report warrants Watson is deserving of a penalty far more severe than six games.

  38. Im not a big union guy, but what I will say is this. Unions have an obligation to support all of their members, regardless of whether they agree or not. Failure to provide this support to a member could lead to an unfair labor charge filed with the NLRB, which could sanction the union for failure to support. So all the NFLPA is doing is their obligation, not concurrence with Watson’s actions.

  39. Quite the histrionics. No relationship has been broken, no long-term damage is imminent, and it’s business as usual.

  40. Neither cares about how they look. Surprising that players of the NFL has not stood up and be a man and say this type of attitude and actions of players is not acceptable. What are they afraid of, the bad apple story sure comes into play and not one player with families or girlfriends has come forward.

  41. Bob Kraft knowingly broke the law every time he went into that Florida massage parlor looking for the same thing Watson was looking for. And what did good ole Roger Goodell do about it? Absolutely NOTHING!!. So if you are wondering why many of the NFLPA players are upset at Goodell, now you know. Yes, Watson is a bum; but having to watch Goodell pretend he’s morally outraged at a 6 game suspension and small fine is more than I can stomach, considering he doesn’t care at all when an owner does something just as bad.

  42. Response to

    I’m a (former) Browns fan. My wife was a massage therapist, and thankfully never encountered the advances of such a pig. Everything was professional. She was also a Browns fan, as we live 15 miles from Cleveland,but no more. The Browns front office needs to be gutted. Absolutely disgusted. Go Baker.


    You’ll be back. Also. I hate to say it. But your wife is probably lying. My wife is also a massage therapist and she gets asked for happy endings all of the time and is accidentally touched. She said the massage therapist can easily end the session and leave the room

    She also said based on the text messages Watson sent that the therapist had good enough instincts to know what Watson wanted beforehand.

    Watson picked the wrong places and should’ve stuck with places named Jupiter spa or something like that.

  43. They only have Watson to blame for being a creep and then deciding to defend his reprehensible behavior!

  44. The NFL’s image is at the bottom of the barrel already, Watson’s behavior and the NFL’s tolerance just reaffirms what everyone knows but refuses to acknowledge. That there is a good percentage of bad citizens within their player ranks.

  45. If you’re not intelligent enough to understand the distinction between Kraft and Watson from a consent standpoint then no one can hope to help you understand much of anything.

  46. I love all the posters saying Watson is a creep. You know massages are legal right? Just because you are a troll, and uptight doesnt mean others are. And these massage therapists we would have never heard from them if they were and are doing this to normal Joe Schmos. They capitalized on their pay day but please save these women are victims nonsense. This is what they chose to do for work. Im sure Watson wasnt the first or last guy that did this to them

  47. The NFLPA was hoping for no games suspended in reality. They have zero ethical morals.

  48. That is why we need something better than collective bargaining agreements. Maybe the government should set have the courts oversee these negotiations so that they owners don’t have so much power. The players never have any real power in these negotiations because if they don’t cow tow to the things the owners really want them the owners will just do a lockout because most of the players cant afford to not play. That or the government should set some kind of guidelines as to what power or money owners can have or limit their ability to investigate themselves.

  49. The Players Association are nothing but a bunch of telephone tough guys.

    Any power they have is an illusion.

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