AP sources: Decision in Watson disciplinary case to come Monday

A decision on the discipline of Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson following accusations of sexual misconduct will be handed down Monday.

Two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that retired judge Sue L. Robinson has notified the NFL and the NFL Players’ Association that she is ready to make a decision on Watson’s disciplinary hearing. which ended a month ago. They spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the discussions are private.

Watson has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by 24 massage therapists in Texas and has settled 20 of the civil lawsuits filed against him. Four lawsuits are still pending and the lawyer representing the women said he hopes to bring them to trial next spring.

Two separate Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal charges arising from the allegations.

Watson, who played four seasons with Houston before being traded to Cleveland in March, trained with the Browns while Robinson spent weeks trying to figure out if the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback had violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy and whether to impose discipline. .

The NFL argued for an indefinite suspension of at least a year during a three-day hearing in Delaware last month. The league also wants to fine Watson $5 million, according to a person familiar with the talks. The union has pushed for no punishment, although a person familiar with Watson’s defense told the AP in June that a suspension was expected and the goal was to make playing Watson this season.

Settlement negotiations have not progressed.

If Robinson, who was appointed jointly by the league and the players’ union, imposes a penalty, either side can appeal. In such event, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or his designate “will render a written decision which shall constitute a full, final and complete resolution of the dispute”, pursuant to the terms of Article 46 of the collective agreement.

The NFLPA has already made it clear that it will not appeal.

“Prior to Judge Robinson’s decision, we wanted to reiterate the facts of this proceeding,” the union said in a statement. “First, we have cooperated fully with every NFL investigation and provided the NFL with the most comprehensive set of information for any personal conduct policy investigation. A former federal judge – jointly appointed by the NFLPA and the NFL – held a full and fair hearing, read thousands of pages of investigative materials, and considered both parties’ arguments impartially. Every player, owner, business partner, and stakeholder deserves to know that our process is legitimate and will not be tarnished by the whims of the League office, which is why, whatever his decision, Deshaun and the NFLPA will stand by his decision and we call on the NFL to do the same.

The union negotiated the right for each party to appeal the decision of a CBA disciplinary officer signed in March 2020, as Goodell previously had the authority to impose penalties for personal conduct violations.

Watson won the majority of first-team reps with Cleveland’s starting offense in the first four days of camp.

On Saturday, the 26-year-old quarterback practiced in front of Browns fans for the first time since signing a fully guaranteed, five-year, $230 million contract with the team in March. He stayed after practice to sign autographs and pose for photos with fans. He even signed and gave away his cleats after losing a game of rock, paper, scissors to a young fan.

Cleveland traded three first-round picks to Houston for Watson, a player the team believes can make him a Super Bowl contender.

If Watson is suspended, coach Kevin Stefanski reiterated last week that replacement Jacoby Brissett would be the team’s starter. The Browns also recently signed veteran Josh Rosen as more insurance and Josh Dobbs is also on the roster.

Watson has yet to speak to reporters during camp, presumably waiting for there to be a resolution in his case.

“I know there’s this uncertainty, but we can only control what we can control,” Stefanski said. “I think that’s what he’s done a really good job of. Football is a big part of what we’re doing at the moment in football. He’s really invested in it.”


AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.


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