The NFL is expected to appeal the decision of arbitrator Sue Robinson in order to seek a more extensive punishment than the six-game suspension handed out to Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson earlier this week, according to a report by Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is the sole authority on disciplinary sentences subject to appeal and could circumvent the entire process that involved Robinson in the first place. The NFLPA, representing Watson, stated last week that it will stand behind Robinson’s ruling.
Robinson ruled that the NFL had demonstrated that Watson violated the league’s personal conduct policy for players, but using the league’s establishment punishment criteria for a guide, could not justify suspending Watson for more than six games, despite the 24 civil lawsuits field against him by women alleging sexual harassment and misconduct.
“It is apparent that Mr. Watson acted with a reckless disregard for the consequences of his actions by exposing himself to such a public scrutiny and speculation. Mr. Watson’s predatory conduct case ‘a negative light on the League and its players,” Robinson wrote in her ruling.
The NFL has three days to appeal the decision, with Goodell serving as the ultimate authority on whether an appeal will be held and the results of the appeal.
“We appreciate Judge Robinson’s diligence and professionalism throughout this process,” the league said in a statement. “Pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFL or the NFLPA on behalf of Watson may appeal the decision within three days. In light of her findings, the league is reviewing Judge Robinson’s imposition of a six-game suspension and will make a determination on next steps.”
Complicating matters is Watson’s contact, which was signed after the allegations were made public, but significantly back-loaded his pay to the point that he will barely be financially impacted by the six-game ban handed down by Robinson.