After weeks of deliberation, NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson will reportedly issue a decision on Monday over whether or not Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson violated the league’s personal conduct policy.
That is according to numerous media outlets, with CBS Sports’ Senior NFL Insider Josina Anderson among the first to report the news.
I’m told relevant parties have already been notified that Sue Robinson is currently expected to inform them of the decision in the Deshaun Watson proceeding by some time Monday, per league sources.— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) July 31, 2022
The ruling could come as early as 9 a.m., according to cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot.
#Browns QB Deshaun Watson's ruling on his likely suspension will be handed down on Monday by #NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson, 2 league sources tell clevelanddotcom. Both sides can still appeal https://t.co/JQGRGrf0Pm— Mary Kay Cabot (@MaryKayCabot) July 31, 2022
Watson has been dealing with civil lawsuits filed by 25 women accusing him of sexual assault and inappropriate conduct during massage sessions while he was still a member of the Houston Texans. One of the lawsuits was dropped in April, while in June, Watson settled 20 of the remaining lawsuits, leaving four lawsuits still proceeding toward trials that are expected to begin sometime in 2023.
Robinson, who was jointly appointed by the NFL and the NFLPA, heard Watson’s case during a three-day period in June and everyone associated with the case has been waiting for her to make a ruling.
The league has argued for a lengthy suspension, starting at a minimum of a year, while the NFLPA has pushed back by arguing that the league should not hold its players to a higher standard of conduct than it does the owners.
Robinson will first issue her ruling. If both the league office and the players’ union are fine with it, everyone moves on. If either side is not happy, they have three days to submit an appeal to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, according to ESPN. Goodell, or someone he designates, can then either increase or reduce any suspension handed down to Watson and the matter is finished.
With this being the first case of its kind under the new collective bargaining agreement, there has been much speculation that neither side will appeal the decision, especially when it comes to the league office. Goodell often came under criticism under the old system as he was seen as “judge, jury and executioner” when it came to matters of player discipline, so the league may be hesitant to appeal Robinson’s decision to show they believe in the new system.
To that end, the NFLPA issued a statement Sunday evening saying that the union and Watson will accept Robinson’s ruling and urged the NFL to do the same.
Our joint statement with Deshaun Watson on the impending arbitration decision: pic.twitter.com/9ObLnHiX6J— NFLPA (@NFLPA) July 31, 2022
The statement reads:
In advance of Judge Robinson’s decision, we wanted to reiterate the facts of this proceeding. First, we have fully cooperated with every NFL inquiry and provided the NFL with the most comprehensive set of information for any personal conduct policy investigation. A former Federal Judge - appointed jointly by the NFLPA and NFL - held a full and fair hearing, has read thousands of pages of investigative documents and reviewed arguments from both sides impartially. Every player, owner, business partner and stakeholder deserves to know that our process is legitimate and will not be tarnished based on the whims of the League office. This is why, regardless of her decision, Deshaun and the NFLPA will stand by her ruling and we call on the NFL to do the same.
It has been a long four-plus months since the Browns traded for Watson in March and became part of his off-field story.
Monday may finally bring some form of closure to the situation and provide Watson and the team with an idea of just when he might be able to suit up for an actual regular-season game with the Browns.