All Eyes on the NFL: Decision Still Pending on Lawsuit Against Brown's Deshaun Watson

Cleveland Browns and football fans worldwide wait to hear the NFL's decision on Watson, who has been accused of sexual misconduct

AP Photo/Ron Schwane

As Deshaun Watson continues the fight to clear his name, football fans everywhere anticipate what penalty the star quarterback will receive from the NFL for being accused of sexual misconduct by 24 women.

The investigation is being conducted by Lisa Friel and Todd Jones. Once it is brought to an end, former U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson will review the league's findings and decide whether Watson violated the personal conduct policy and whether to impose discipline.

This will be Robinson's first case as the league's disciplinary officer under the most current bargaining agreement finalized in March 2020.

The league and the union can recommend a possible length for suspension, but if either the union or league appeals Robinson's decision, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or his designee "will issue a written decision that will constitute full, final, and complete disposition of the dispute," per terms of Article 46 in the CBA.

Two grand juries in Texas declined to indict Watson, so he is not facing criminal charges. However, he is facing civil lawsuits from 24 massage therapists accusing him of sexual assault and harassment during private sessions when he was quarterback for the Houston Texans.

On Tuesday, Watson denied all claims once again and proclaimed his innocence.

"I never assaulted anyone," Watson said. "I never harassed anyone [and] I never disrespected anyone. I never forced anyone to do anything."

The NFL promised to put its foot down against players accused of violence against women following cases like Ben Roethlisberger, Ray Rice, Ezekiel Elliott, and James Winston.

The league is aware how much public opinion weighs on Watson's case. Sources say the NFL has learned from previous mistakes of leniency in violence and sexual assault cases and allegations against Watson warrant a strict penalty.

Mark Ganis, the president of sports consulting firm Sportscorp Ltd., stated the league cannot punish Watson based off a majority view.

"The problem that Deshaun Watson has isn't the court of public opinion, but even if he did what he acknowledges having done, it's still problematic and at least a level of unusual activity for an NFL player and can be misconstrued as misconduct," said Ganis.

There is a possibility that Watson will be required to attend counseling. His "no regrets" comments definitely rubbed some the wrong way. Watson would later acknowledge that the comment may have taken others aback.

"I do have regrets as far as the impact that [it's had on the community and people outside of just myself," Watson said. "That includes my family. That includes my organization... That includes males, females, everyone across the world. That's the one thing I do regret is the impact that it's triggered on so many people."

Attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents all 24 women suing Watson, is asking for more contrition.

"We think it would be appropriate to see Deshaun Watson express some regret or remorse in the way he treated these women," Buzbee said in a statement.

Sources say a decision is expected to be made before training camp begins.

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