BREAKING: NFL, NFLPA Reach Agreement To Suspend Deshaun Watson For 11-Games

Syndication: USA TODAY

The National Football League and NFL Players Association have reportedly reached an agreement to suspend Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson for 11-games. Watson is eligible to return to the field week 13 against the Houston Texans. Watson has also been fined $5 million dollars, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, and must attend mandatory counseling.

Watson issued a statement, saying that he is appreciative of the “tremendous support” he’s received through his short time with the Browns.

“As we have previously conveyed, Deshaun and his representatives have abided by the NFL and NFLPA structure awaiting a final decision and we have respected the process. Now that a decision on discipline has been reached, we understand this is a real opportunity to create meaningful change and we are committed to investing in programs in Northeast Ohio that will educate our youth regarding awareness, understanding, and most importantly, prevention of sexual misconduct and the many underlying causes of such behavior,” Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said as part of their issued statement.

The NFL recently appealed Judge Sue L. Robinson’s six-game suspension of Watson. The NFLPA initially asked the NFL not to do so and on the eve before the decision came out, vowed not to exercise its own right to appeal. However, the NFL wanted Watson to serve a suspension that is longer than six-games and had been pushing for a one-year indefinite suspension. In recent days, reports indicate Watson was willing to accept an eight-game suspension and a large fine.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently publicly stated that Watson’s behavior was “egregious” and “predatory” when asked for his thoughts about the suspension.

“Because we’ve seen the evidence. She [disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson] was very clear about the evidence,” Goodell said. “She reinforced the evidence that there [were] multiple violations here and they were egregious and it was predatory behavior.”

Former NJ Attorney General Peter C. Harvey was chosen by Goodell to hear and decide the appeal of the six-game suspension. Harvey is currently a partner at the Paterson Belknap firm in New York. He is a former federal prosecutor. The NFL released a statement on Harvey’s qualifications.

“He has deep expertise in criminal law, including domestic violence and sexual assault, and has advised the NFL and other professional leagues on the development and implementation of workplace policies, including the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy. Mr. Harvey has also served as the Commissioner’s designee in other arbitrations….Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Mr. Harvey’s written decision ‘will constitute the full, final and complete disposition of the dispute and will be binding upon the player(s), Club(s), and parties’ to the CBA.”

Under the CBA, Harvey was required to conduct an expedited review on appeal and must hold a hearing within ten days of the appeal being filed. However, no hearing was held due to the ongoing settlement talks stalling Harvey’s issuance of a decision. Now Harvey will not rule on the appeal, due to the settlement agreement.

Watson signed a deal with the Browns worth $230 million dollars. The NFLPA has vowed in the past that it would appeal any final decision that requires a one-year or longer suspension by challenging it in federal court.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the NFL intends on using the full $7 million fine to invest in organizations dedicated to preventing sexual misconduct & sexual assault.