NFL appeals Deshaun Watson suspension, seeks tougher penalty

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Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was suspended for six games earlier this week, but the NFL opted to appeal that disciplinary measure. File Photo by Trask Smith/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 3 (UPI) — The NFL appealed the six-game suspension Deshaun Watson received earlier this week for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, the league said Wednesday.

Sources told ESPN, CBS Sports and Cleveland.com that the league is seeking an indefinite suspension for Watson.

On Monday, former federal judge Sue L. Robinson issued the multi-game ban, which was linked to sexual misconduct allegations made against the Cleveland Browns quarterback.

The league and players union, which appointed Robinson to settle the disciplinary dispute, had until Thursday to appeal the ruling.

In its Wednesday statement, the NFL cited its 2020 collective bargaining agreement, which does not allow Robinson’s “factual findings” to be appealed, but does allow the discipline imposed to be appealed.

“The NFL notified the NFLPA [players union] that it will appeal Judge Robinson’s disciplinary decision and filed its brief this afternoon,” the NFL said.

“Commissioner Roger Goodell will determine who will hear the appeal.”

Watson has faced accusations of sexual assault and inappropriate conduct from more than two dozen women through civil lawsuits. Those alleged encounters occurred between March 2020 and March 2021, when Watson was the starting quarterback of the Houston Texans.

Watson has denied criminal wrongdoing and two grand juries in Texas declined to indict him earlier this year.

Watson settled 20 of the lawsuits he faced in June. His attorney, Tony Buzbee, said Monday that Watson settled three of the remaining four lawsuits he faces.

“Throughout this process, Deshaun and his representatives have abided by the newly created and agreed upon process for the NFLPA and the NFL to defer to the objective Judge Sue L. Robinson to comprehensively review all information and make a fair decision,” Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said Monday.

“We respect Judge Robinson’s decision, and at the same time, empathize and understand that there have been many individuals triggered throughout this process.

“We know Deshaun is remorseful that this situation has caused much heartache to many and he will continue the work needed to show who he is on and off the field, and we will continue to support him.”

Watson did not play at all last season for the Texans amid the allegations. He was traded to the Browns in March and signed a five-year, $230 million contract with the AFC North franchise.

Jacoby Brissett, Joshua Dobbs and Josh Rosen are among the other quarterbacks on the team’s roster.

The Browns are scheduled to return to training camp Friday in Berea, Ohio.

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