Deshaun Watson will get a hearing in front of the NFL and NFL Player’s Association’s jointly-appointed disciplinary officer, Sue L. Robinson, beginning on Tuesday, a person with knowledge of the details confirmed to the Akron Beacon Journal.
The league source requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the development. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy declined comment in an email to the Beacon Journal.
Watson has been under investigation by the NFL for potential violations of the Personal Conduct Policy since the spring of 2021 while he was still with the Houston Texans. It stems from what had grown into 24 total lawsuits in Texas alleging some degree of sexual misconduct while getting massages dating back to March of that year.
When Watson was acquired from the Texans on March 18, he faced 22 lawsuits that were filed against him in March and April 2021. Two more lawsuits were filed since May 31, the first since he arrived in Cleveland.
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On Tuesday, Watson reached confidential settlements in 20 of the 24 lawsuits. The four remaining, including that of original plaintiff Ashley Solis, are expected to go to trial next March.
“My biggest thing is just going to clear my name so I can get back being in the environment that I’m the most comfortable in and that’s being in the community and helping people and being that role model and leader and also being on the football field with my teammates and trying to win ballgames,” Watson said during minicamp on June 14. “That’s something that I haven’t really been focused on. (I’m focused on) just clearing my name and focusing on doing what’s right and being honest and whoever I have to answer to I have to give them the true facts.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in May the investigation was nearing it conclusion. Multiple reports since then have indicated the league is seeking a lengthy suspension for Watson, up to and including a full year.
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According to multiple reports this week, the NFL and the NFLPA held negotiations for a potential settlement regarding the length of Watson’s suspension. Those talks, though, fell apart because of the wide gap between the two sides on what the length of the suspension should be.
The NFLPA will argue on behalf of Watson in front of Robinson. The union had been expected to pursue an aggressive appeal which pointed out what it sees as weak to non-existent penalties imposed on owners such as New England’s Robert Kraft or Washington’s Daniel Snyder for their own violations of the same policy which also puts an added onus on “ownership and club or league management.”
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Robinson spent 25 years as a member of Delaware’s district court. Per Schefter’s report, there is no track record on rulings against NFL players.
The same report stated the timetable for a decision ranges anywhere from a week until the start of training camp on July 27. An appeal to Goodell — or an independent arbiter if he chooses — can be made by Watson after Robinson’s ruling.
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