The NFL’s hearing regarding their personal conduct policy against Deshaun Watson finished on Thursday before independent hearing officer Sue Robinson, a former circuit court judge.
Now that the hearing process has concluded, what is next? Here is what DBN knows.
NFL and NFLPA arguments
It had been reported after the first day of testimony that the NFL desired a lengthy suspension for Watson. The league wanted to send a strong message that the abuse of women would not be in any way permitted under their shield.
The fact that this case involved alleged sexual misconduct and assault of women only amplified the league’s stance. In the past, the response from the NFL hasn’t been the most straight forward and it was often a very slow process. This time around, the league wants to hit hard regarding any type of abuse of women.
During the hearing, the NFL issued its recommendation that Watson should be assessed an indefinite suspension. In addition, after one year he can apply for reinstatement and a formal hearing would decide if, or when, he may play again. If granted, this means Watson may not be seem on the field for several years.
The NFLPA’s stance along with Watson and his representatives, is that the signalcaller should not receive any suspension whatsoever. He has not been criminally charged, and the quarterback spent all of last season not playing because of the then-ongoing criminal investigation.
There was another argument from the NFLPA. It was mentioned that there appears to be a double-standard when situations such as this arise regarding owners and players. The players’ union contends that three owners have been accused of similar instances yet all three were not only granted leniency, but their franchises did not suffer, nor were assessed monetary penalties nor docked draft picks.
The collective bargaining agreement specifically states that franchise owners should be held to a higher-standard in regards to league misconduct in order to protect the integrity of the shield.
What to expect next
Now that Robinson has all of the evidence from both parties, her job is to come to a judgment. She has stated that she will take a precise approach to not only the arguments, but also the hard evidence presented.
Robinson has requested briefs the week of July 11 to which attorneys from both sides will submit.
Don’t expect a fast ruling on this matter. Her decision will likely take some time to provide a fair assessment of the situation.
If her ruling is considered light, the NFL will look like they have minimal control over their employees with actions that are considered unfavorable to the mass public. It would also open up the fact that with future situations regarding other players, the NFL will not have much power to impose punishment. This alone is a huge concern for the league.
Expect Robinson’s ruling to take as long as 10 days after the briefs have been submitted.
If she does not recommend any suspension, then that is the end of it without any appeal process. If any type of suspension is her advice, then both sides may accept the terms or appeal. She also has the option to recommend mediation between the two. The appellate process would involve NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. This would involve hearing arguments from both sides before he would make his decision, which would be final.
The obstacles looking forward are having Watson or playing without him for a portion of the season, the possibility of backup Jacoby Brissett being the starter, or perhaps enticing Baker Mayfield to return and become the team’s starting quarterback.
If Watson were to receive a six-game suspension, Brissett would man the ship until he returns. If Brissett could manage a 4-2 record in his absence, then the season could most likely become fruitful culminated with a playoff berth.
A look at the first six games include the Panthers, Jets, Steelers, Falcons, Chargers and Patriots. So a four-win beginning is certainly a possibility with the amount of weapons Brissett would have at his disposal while playing behind one of the league’s best offensive lines.