Report: Deshaun Watson Appeal Decision Stalled By Ongoing Settlement Talks

Pro Football Talk is reporting that the National Football League and NFL Players Association are actively engaged in negotiating a settlement regarding the discipline of Cleveland Browns Quarterback Deshaun Watson. Discussions have reportedly been ongoing for the past few days but a compromise between the NFL and NFLPA still remains uncertain. Appeals Officer Peter C. Harvey will likely be delaying his ruling on Watson until settlement talks reach a stalemate or conclude.

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 wants 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 may be 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 is required to conduct an expedited review on appeal and must hold a hearing within ten days of the appeal being filed. However, it has been more than ten days since the NFL filed an appeal and no hearing has reportedly been held yet. This could be due to the ongoing settlement talks stalling Harvey’s issuance of a decision.

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.

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