Deshaun Watson’s intent to sue may remain moot; 2-8 games could be final range of punishment
On Monday, the big news in the Deshaun Watson case came from Charles Robinson’s report that the NFL Players Association and Watson are prepared to file a federal lawsuit attacking a full-season suspension, if that’s the end result of the NFL’s internal process. However, the feeling within the Watson camp and the union is that it won’t come to that.
As one source who has reviewed the materials submitted last week by the parties to Judge Sue L. Robinson told PFT on Monday, the final punishment most likely won’t be one year. The currently expected range is two to eight games.
Whether the league would appeal such an outcome, 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.
One of the strongest arguments on Watson’s behalf comes from the plain language of the policy: “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.
So what, if any, discipline will be imposed on the team’s director of security? Brent Naccara is, given his title, a member of “club management.” He allegedly responded to news of a situation involving Watson by giving Watson an NDA to use moving forward.
As explained on Monday, the league and the team haven’t responded to inquiries regarding whether the NFL is investigating the Texans over a situation that resulted in 30 civil settlements. Watson and the NFLPA should, if they haven’t already, consider raising that point with Judge Robinson via a supplemental letter or brief, since the failure to even consider (if that’s what’s happening) any league action against Naccara or the Texans would provide further proof of a double standard between club management and players.