During his Thursday press conference that primarily focused on criticizing the NFL for its handling of the discipline of Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson — even though the NFL continues to try to suspend Watson for at least one year — attorney Tony Buzbee provided a vague hint regarding his potential plans for the future.
While addressing the settlement of claims on behalf of 30 clients against the Houston Texans, Buzbee made a remark regarding another party that has not been sued. Yes.
“It think it’s important to note that, as part of that settlement, the NFL did not participate,” Buzbee said. “They are not part of that release.”
In other words, the NFL could still be sued by one or more of Buzbee’s clients.
The grounds of any potential litigation aren’t clear. With the Texans, the claims primarily flowed from the notion that the team gave Watson a nondisclosure agreement to use while securing private massage therapy sessions. The Texans arguably knew or should have known that Watson was engaged in misconduct, and arguably failed to put a stop to it.
There’s no evidence (at least none that has been disclosed) that the NFL knew or should have known about Watson’s behavior while it was occurring. Buzbee could try to argue that the league is vicariously liable for Watson because he held himself out as an NFL quarterback in order to pursue his alleged habit/fetish of arranging massages that he then tried to convert to sexual encounters. Also, Buzbee could argue that the league engaged in negligent, reckless, or intentional infliction of emotional distress by the manner in which the investigation was handled.
Regardless, his comment hints at potential plans for the future. Whether he intends to proceed with one or more lawsuits or whether he simply hopes to pressure the league to drop the hammer on Watson remains to be seen. Either way, the league is currently trying to drop the hammer on Watson, a fact that Buzbee’s comments from Thursday overlooked.