After weeks and months of speculation, Tuesday will give us an answer as to the framework of Deshaun Watson’s potential punishment. According to a tweet via ESPN’s Adam Schefter, a hearing will be held Tuesday for Watson, the NFLPA, and the NFL in front of arbitrator and disciplinary officer Sue Robinson, who will make a recommendation of punishment, or no punishment at all, for Watson.
Here’s what Schefter tweeted moments ago.
It’s worth noting Schefter couches it as the hearing “beginning” Tuesday, meaning there may not be an answer until later in the week.
Expectations are Watson will be facing a heavy suspension, perhaps missing the entire 2022 season. It should be noted this is not necessarily a final punishment. The ruling can be appealed by either party and it likely will given the fact settlement talks fell through. But the initial punishment is likely to be in the ballpark of whatever punishment Watson actually serves. Any appeal will either go through Goodell who also has the option to have an independent arbitrator handle it, a likely course of action given the conflict of interest.
It’s also possible Robinson, a former US District Judge, recommends no punishment at all. Watson has been sued by 24 and accused by 26 women of inappropriate sexual conduct during massages over the last several years. He recently settled all but four of those civil suits. The others remain outstanding. Watson has denied all allegations.
Per Schefter, the league was only able to talk to a “fraction” of accusers and will base their proposed suspension of those conversations. The NFLPA will likely to attempt to point out the league’s hypocrisy of issuing no punishment for owners like Robert Kraft, Dan Snyder, and Jerry Jones, who have been accused of inappropriate sexual conduct or fostering a toxic workplace. According to Dan Patrick, a source told him the union will also bring up Ben Roethlisberger’s six-game suspension, later reduced to four, after his sexual assault allegations more than a decade ago.
Cleveland traded for Watson earlier in the offseason, a massive haul and a massive contract, giving Watson a fully guaranteed, $230 million deal. Now, they’ll find out how long that contract will sit on the sidelines. Odds are, it will be a long time. Veteran Jacoby Brissett is expected to start during the team Watson is unavailable.