When Judge Sue L. Robinson handed Deshaun Watson a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, it felt like it was only a matter of time before the league filed an appeal. After all, the NFL was angling for an indefinite suspension that came with an opportunity to apply for re-instatement after a year.
Given that context, the NFL filing an appeal of Watson’s suspension given by the jointly appointed (by the NFL and NFLPA) judge was only a matter of time. NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport has the details of the appeal via a statement from league employee Brian McCarthy:
The statement from McCarthy provides additional background on the situation. But the most important detail is that it will be Commissioner Roger Goodell is essentially the final boss here. Because of how the CBA was written, Goodell ultimately decides Watson’s fate in one way or another. Goodell could hear the appeal himself or decide on someone who will hear it. And with that being the case, it feels likely that Watson will face a longer suspension his current six-gamer.
The NFLPA has two days to file a response to this decision. However, as we noted above, this setup agreed upon by the NFL and NFLPA in the CBA signed in March 2020 doesn’t seem to leave much wiggle room for hope that the league will keep the suspension at just six games. And I doubt the NFL will shorten the punishment. Even still … that the league could tack on to the suspension after a ruling from an independent arbitrator could set up for messy times.
Not like that would be a first for these two parties. But it wouldn’t be great for these two sparring this soon after signing a CBA. Then again, this seems like a battle worth fighting from the league’s end of thing. But depending on the league’s ruling, the NFLPA could feel the same way. And the result from that *COULD* be taking this to the courts. To be clear, that isn’t in play right now. But it is something we should be cognizant of in the future.
We’ll keep following this situation as the story develops. Because even with the NFL lining up for a lengthier Watson suspension, I doubt the story ends there.
UPDATE 1: In addition to angling for an indefinite suspension, there could be a monetary/fine aspect that comes as a result of the appeals process: