Appeals officer Peter Harvey continues to delay his decision in the Deshaun Watson case, apparently not because he’s undecided or procrastinating. Harvey is believed to be waiting to see whether the league and Watson can work out a deal.
The possibility of settlement remains viable, we’re told. Currently, it could go either way. As such things usually do. But this one truly falls into the toss-up category. We’ll wait and see if the NFL and Watson can find a middle ground.
Watson’s sudden turn toward remorse is surely part of the effort to negotiate a better outcome than the one he’d otherwise experience. It’s hard to regard this belated awakening as authentic, given the months of doubling down and reciting talking points about never harassing, assaulting, or disrespecting any woman.
Then there’s the fact that his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, has publicly said he believes all of the women making accusations against Watson were lying. So was Hardin just lying about all the lying, or was he just misinformed?
Privately, those close to Watson were equally zealous. They expressed dismay that reporters weren’t exposing the flaws in the claims against him, ignoring the simple fact that it’s their job to develop and expose such weaknesses. If they eventually have to do it for a jury in court, why not do it in the court of public opinion?
But now, the message is apology and contrition. It’s a far cry from anger and denial. Real or not, Watson apparently realized he was closing in on being caught on the wrong side of checkmate. Even if the NFL Players Association has grand plans for a federal-court challenge to a longer suspension, the fact remains that the NFL has consistently prevailed — and that the CBA was specifically negotiated to reserve final say to the league after other high-profile suspensions made their way through the court system.