DELAWARE, USA — Hearings are ongoing as Deshaun Watson awaits discipline for potentially violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.
On Tuesday, the NFL insisted on an indefinite suspension for the Cleveland Browns' quarterback, according to The Associated Press. Meanwhile Watson's legal team argues there's no basis for that severe of a punishment.
The AP was told by two people in attendance that both sides started presenting their cases in Delaware on Tuesday.
On Monday, the Houston Texans were named in a lawsuit filed by attorney Tony Buzbee on behalf of one of the massage therapists who accused Watson of inappropriate behavior.
Watson is scheduled to be there for the duration of Wednesday's hearing, according to one person who spoke on condition of anonymity because the hearing isn’t public. It's expected to conclude Thursday but it's not known when a ruling will be made.
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Former U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson, who was jointly appointed by the league and the NFL Players’ Association, will determine whether Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy and whether to impose discipline.
Watson agreed to settle 20 of 24 civil lawsuits for sexual misconduct, but the league is seeking at least a one-year suspension, one of the people told The AP. Watson’s side, led by attorneys Jeffrey Kessler and Rusty Hardin, wants the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback to play this season for the Cleveland Browns.
Two separate Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal complaints stemming from the allegations.
Watson has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to clear his name.
This is the first hearing for Robinson, who was the first woman Chief Judge for the District of Delaware. Previously, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had the authority to impose discipline for violations of the personal conduct policy.
While a punishment has yet to be issued for the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback, a new report has shed some light on how the process is likely to play out.
Per the most recent collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which went into effect in 2020, punishment for a player is issued by an independent arbiter who has been jointly appointed by the league and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA).
But while former U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson will be responsible for issuing a ruling on Watson's case, the NFL maintains the ability to appeal any punishment that is issued (the NFL cannot make such an appeal if no punishment is issued).
In the event that the NFL does appeal, the final ruling is made by the league's commissioner, Rodger Goodell, or a designee. But while the NFL -- which has reportedly recommended an indefinite suspension last at least one season for Watson -- essentially maintains the ability to have the last word in the event that any type of punishment is issued, according to Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press, the league is planning to stick with Robinson's ruling.
Still, Goodell holds considerable power. If either the union or league appeals Robinson’s decision, 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 collective bargaining agreement.
That means Goodell could ultimately overrule Robinson’s decision and suspend Watson for one year or even indefinitely due to the potential for more cases.
However, an appeal would prolong the process for both sides.