NFL reporter Mike Florio has claimed that a decision over Deshaun Watson’s future could be reached before commissioner Roger Goodell can hand out a full and proper punishment.
Watson is currently under investigation from the National Football League over 24 acts of sexual misconduct that he has been accused of committing during his time with the Houston Texans. Whilst he was not indicted by a criminal court for the allegations, he has been facing a number of civil suits against him from his accusers.
The hearing between Watson and the NFL is being overseen by former federal judge Sue L. Robinson and concluded last week, with both sides now waiting to hear what her verdict is when it comes to a possible suspension.
What is at stake for Watson?
Watson, who has maintained his innocence throughout proceedings, will be hoping for the smallest suspension possible, as he looks to get his promising football career back on track, having put up 14,539 passing yards and 104 touchdowns during his time with the Texans.
Those numbers were enough for the Browns to give him a fully-guaranteed 5-year, $230m contract to be their quarterback of the future this past offseason.
The NFL on the other hand is reportedly pushing for an ‘indefinite suspension’, but with a minimum suspension of one year, neither punishment would be new territory for the league as they have handed out plenty of both in the past.
But according to Florio, it’s possible that the two sides could meet in the middle.
What has Florio said?
Writing in a column for ProFootballTalk, Florio broke down what could potentially happen with the legal proceedings, and claimed that even though the hearings are still going on, it could well be a case of the two sides coming to an agreement ahead of time, and then work out what is going to happen when it comes to how NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could handle having the final say:
“A settlement could make much more sense for the NFL after Judge Robinson announces a decision. As long as she imposes any discipline whatsoever, the league can appeal to Goodell, who would have final say. He could, if he wanted, impose a full-season suspension, or longer. It becomes much easier for the league to negotiate with Watson once someone other than the league issues a decision as to whether the Personal Conduct Policy was violated and the punishment that should ensue.
“Let’s say Judge Robinson suspends Watson four games. That’s her decision, one that ideally will be communicated through a carefully-written decision that will be understandable to anyone who is inclined to believe at first blush that the discipline isn’t sufficient. Then, with Goodell holding the hammer that would allow him to increase the punishment to a full year, the settlement talks could happen — and a suspension that ends up being longer than the one Judge Robinson imposed would be viewed as the league pushing successfully to get a stronger punishment.”
So this isn’t necessarily an open and shut case when it comes to Watson’s future, but Florio’s report also claims that “Five days from now, the two sides will submit written paperwork to Judge Sue L. Robinson arguing their respective positions”, it seems as if we might be coming to an announcement rather soon.
You just have to hope that the right decision is reached on all sides, because whilst the football aspect of this is important for how the Browns will attack this season, there has to be a level of justice applied to the situation as well, and hopefully that isn’t brushed aside when the verdict comes out.