CINCINNATI — Plenty of rumors have flown around Deshaun Watson’s impending suspension in recent weeks, but the most recent one is breaking from the norm of a projected year-long or indefinite suspension.
According to Pro Football Talk, independent investigator Sue L. Robinson is expected to hand down a punishment between 2-8 games. Watson is facing discipline for 20-plus civil suits involving sexual harassment from massage therapy appointments, although the NFL is focusing on four of the cases.
“Whether the league would appeal such an outcome,” Mike Florio wrote. “And whether Commissioner Roger Goodell or his designee would impose a dramatically longer ban, remains to be seen.
“The case presented by the NFL ultimately focused on four alleged violations; the fifth (based on media reports and not an interview of the accuser) is not part of the decision-making process. Judge Robinson, after considering the evidence presented to her and making specific findings of fact, will apply the terms of the Personal Conduct Policy to the facts and determine whether and to what extent Watson should be punished.”
Florio went on to say that a key part of the lower-than-expected punishment is language in the CBA holding owners to a higher standard than players.
“One of the strongest arguments on Watson’s behalf comes from the plain language of the policy,” Florio wrote. “‘Ownership and club or league management have traditionally been held to a higher standard and will be subject to more significant discipline.’
“At the hearing, the NFLPA focused on owners who either weren’t punished at all or whose punishments require a player like Watson to receive a lesser sanction. Since the hearing, the Texans have settled 30 claims against them specifically for their alleged role in Watson’s alleged sexual misconduct.”
Deshaun Watson’s camp was reportedly ready to sue the NFL if it handed down a year-long suspension, but we may not even get to that point if Goodell honors a lower initial punishment.
Watson would miss the highly-anticipated MNF game on Halloween against the Bengals during an eight-game ban, but anything less than that means he’ll play in both Cincinnati matchups this season.
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