That Deshaun WatsonAfter the disciplinary hearing is completed, the best solution for the NFL and the quarterback’s legal team is to reach a settlement before retired Judge Sue Robinson makes a decision.
Watson has been accused of sexual misconduct by 24 women and has settled 20 of the civil lawsuits. Two separate Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal charges stemming from the charges.
A settlement between the NFL and Watson would prevent an appeal that undermines the collectively negotiated process with a disciplinary officer and avoids a potential federal lawsuit. The longer the process takes, the uglier it can get for the competition and the QB.
The NFL is pushing for a suspension of at least one year and Watson’s team has argued there is no basis for that sentence, four people with knowledge of the case, including two who attended the hearings, have told, on condition of anonymity. to The Associated Press because details of the three-day lawsuit were not made public.
Tenacity leaves little wiggle room for a settlement agreement and both sides hold on to their strong positions.
Robinson, a former U.S. district judge appointed jointly by the league and the NFL Players’ Association, will decide whether Watson has violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy and whether he will impose disciplinary action — and most importantly, how severe. Both sides believe she will impose a suspension. The question is how many games and whether either side would appeal her decision and put it back in the hands of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
When a person familiar with Watson’s defense team was asked what an acceptable suspension would be, the person told the AP, “Our goal is to get him back on the field this year.”
A 6-8 game suspension would accomplish that goal and see Watson play for the Cleveland Browns in 2022. That also applies to 10 matches.
But then the next question is what is acceptable for the NFL. The league is well aware of public perception. The fallout from its decision in the Ray Rice case in 2014 (in which the league only increased the suspension after a video of Rice hitting his fiancée surfaced) led the NFL to vow it would impose tougher penalties in cases of violence and abuse. sexual assault on women.
A person familiar with the hearing told the AP that the league believes it has provided enough evidence to keep Watson off the field this season. The individual said the competition’s investigation has determined Watson has committed multiple violations of its personal conduct policy.
If Robinson does not impose a suspension appropriate to the NFL, the league still has the authority to do so on its own. Under the terms of Section 46 of the collective bargaining agreement, Goodell or its agent will “make a written decision which shall constitute the full, final and complete settlement of the dispute,” if either party appeals.
However, Watson’s team could try to challenge a Goodell ruling in federal court.
That’s another reason why a settlement is the best way to resolve the dispute.
But it’s unclear how many games the NFL would consider an acceptable number. The league can continue to push for a one-year suspension, but that stands in the way of a mutually beneficial settlement.
Opinions are divided within the NFL.
Some league members didn’t want Watson on the field for OTAs and mini-camp after the Browns took him in a blockbuster game with Houston. They want him to repent of his actions and willingly ask for help before it is imposed through the disciplinary process.
But Goodell did not exercise his right to place Watson on the list of exempt commissioners, as the league typically uses that designation to prevent players from being eligible for competition.
With the NFL and Watson’s legal team straddling the suspension spectrum and seemingly far apart in private negotiations, a settlement may not be an option.
In that case, Robinson will make the first decision – which may not be the final verdict.
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