CLEVELAND — When it comes to lawsuits over suspensions, the National Football League is undefeated, even when its best players are disciplined.
Barring a settlement, Cleveland Browns fans should prepare for months, if not years, of litigation involving quarterback Deshaun Watson.
The NFL announced Wednesday it was appealing a 6-game, no fine suspension for Watson amid sexual misconduct allegations.
There are three past cases that give some insight into how Watson’s appeals will likely go and a sliver of hope he may suit up for the Browns in week one.
Dallas Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott was suspended for six games for domestic violence allegations prior to the 2017 season.
Elliott sued and a judge granted an emergency stay. The lawsuit dragged out for two months and Elliott kept playing through week eight.
In the end, Elliott lost and sat out six games.
Former New England quarterback, Tom Brady used the courts and delayed his suspension for the entire 2015 season.
Like other players, Brady’s lawsuit was eventually tossed out and he served a four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate.
For Browns fans there’s a third case, involving All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson, that dashes all hope of Watson playing in week one.
Amid public outcry after playing week one in 2014 while child abuse charges were pending, Peterson was placed on what’s called the Commissioner’s Exemption List. That move banned Peterson from playing for nine games. A six-game suspension then followed. Two years of litigation didn’t change the outcome.
There is a possibility Watson and the NFL could decide on a out-of-court agreement. The NFL is reportedly seeking an indefinite suspension of at least one year, plus a fine.
Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL announced Thursday former New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey would hear the league’s appeal. Harvey served as an advisor to the NFL during the Elliott investigation.
The appeal process in the Watson case is expected to be expedited.
The NFL Players Association announced Friday it filed a response to the NFL’s appeal. The filing has not been made public.
Watson’s legal battles haven’t come to rest off the field. The attorney representing Watson’s accusers, Tony Buzbee, announced Monday all but one of the 24 lawsuits against Watson was settled.
Following the NFL’s appeal, Buzbee held a press conference, criticizing Watson’s suspension, while calling on Goodell to “do the right thing.’
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