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NFL to appeal Deshaun Watson’s suspension

The fate of Cleveland’s starting quarterback is now in the hands of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Syndication: Akron Beacon Journal Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK

The NFL announced on Wednesday that it will appeal the six-game suspension of Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson.

The appeal was expected after independent disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson, a former federal judge, recommended that Watson be suspended for six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy over 30 massage therapists accusing him of sexual misconduct during appointments.

The league issued the following statement in announcing it would appeal:

“On Monday, Judge Sue L. Robinson, the independent Disciplinary Officer jointly appointed by the NFL and NFL Players Association, issued her ruling in the Personal Conduct Policy matter regarding Deshaun Watson. Under the 2020 NFL-NFLPA collective bargaining agreement (‘CBA’), the factual findings of the Disciplinary Officer are binding and may not be appealed. Judge Robinson found that Mr. Watson violated the NFL’s personal-conduct policy on multiple occasions and suspended him for six games. The CBA affords the NFL or NFLPA the right to appeal the discipline imposed by the Disciplinary Officer. Such an appeal must be filed within three days and would be heard by the Commissioner or his designee.

“The NFL notified the NFLPA that it will appeal Judge Robinson’s disciplinary decision and filed its brief this afternoon. Commissioner Roger Goodell will determine who will hear the appeal.”

The league reportedly wants to issue an indefinite suspension of Watson, according to Albert Breer of The Monday Morning Quarterback, and Watson’s fate now rests in the hands of Goodell.

According to, the appeal will be heard on an “expedited basis” and will focus on reviewing Robinson’s 16-page ruling, which means that there will be no evidence or testimony added to the record.

Most importantly, Goodell or the person he designates to hear the appeal will issue a decision that will be a “full, final and complete disposition of the dispute and will be binding upon the player(s), Club(s) and the parties to this Agreement,” according to

Prior to Robinson’s ruling, the NFL Players Association issued a statement saying they would not appeal the decision and urged the league office to also honor Robinson’s decision. The NFLPA has two business days to respond to the appeal and there is an expectation that the union will fight any additional punishment in federal court, according to’s Mary Kay Cabot.

The Browns had not commented on the latest news as of Wednesday afternoon.