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NFL Appeals Punishment of Texans-Ex Deshaun Watson; Longer Suspension Coming?

The NFL is filling an appeal of this week's suggested six-game suspension of former Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.

HOUSTON - The NFL has officially filed an appeal of the punishment of former Houston Texans and current Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson was suspended six games without pay on Monday by former federal judge Sue L. Robinson for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

The league will likely seek a longer suspension.

"The NFL notified the NFLPA that it will appeal Judge Robinson's disciplinary decision and filed its brief this afternoon," NFL league representative Brian McCarthy said in a statement released Wednesday. "Commissioner Roger Goodell will determine who will hear the appeal." 

Watson, who was traded to the Browns this offseason for six draft picks, faced 24 civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault and sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions. As of Monday, the three-time Pro Bowl had settled 23 of his 24 lawsuits and was prepping to play starting in Week 7 after serving his suspension. 

According to Robinson's 16-page report, Watson’s three violations met the NFL’s definition of sexual assault during massage therapy sessions with four different women. However, because the allegations against Watson were "non-violent sexual conduct," Robinson ruled that she must follow the precedent set by the NFL in years past. 

In 2017, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was suspended for six games after violating the league's personal conduct policy. The case against Watson mirrored Elliott's, thus leading to Robinson's decision. 

“While it may be entirely appropriate to more severely discipline players for non-violent sexual conduct,” Robinson wrote in her decision.  “I do not believe it is appropriate to do so without notice of the extraordinary change this position portends for the NFL and its players.”

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The league office had recommended to Robinson that Watson should be suspended for the entire 2022 season. Goodell, who will have the final say on the length of the suspension, could elect to keep Watson away from all Browns activity for the upcoming year. 

Should the league suspend Watson for the entire season, it is expected that the NFLPA will dispute the decision, thus leading to a further investigation that could reach federal court. The decision from the court could take well past Watson's current Oct. 23 return date. 

The Texans are set to face the Browns with or without Watson on Dec. 4 at NRG Stadium in Houston. will continue to keep you up to date with the league's final verdict and the fallout of what will come next with Watson and his status for the impending year. 

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