CLEVELAND — On Tuesday, Rob Maaddi of The Associated Press reported that the NFL is likely to accept whatever potential punishment former U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson issued for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson.
As it turns out, that may not necessarily be the case.
Citing an NFL source, Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot reported that the NFL "would not likely abide" with a 6-8 game suspension should that be what Robinson issues. While Robinson, who was jointly appointed as an arbiter by the NFL and NFL Players Association (NFLPA) will issue the initial ruling on a potential punishment for Watson if it's determined that he violated the league's personal conduct policy, the league has the ability to modify any punishment that she issues via an appeal (the league cannot appeal, however, if no punishment is issued).
According to multiple reports, the NFL is pushing for Watson to receive an indefinite suspension lasting no less than one season. Watson's side is reportedly seeking no punishment.
While it's unclear whether the NFL would accept a punishment longer than 6-8 games, but less than a season, Cabot's reporting indicates that the league will be willing to use the appeals process to adjust a lesser punishment. While Robinson is serving as an independent arbiter, the appeals process essentially gives NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (or one of his designees) the final say on the matter.
Watson's disciplinary hearing comes as the result of several women having accused the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback of sexual misconduct, including harassment and assault, during his time with the Houston Texans. Last week, Watson settled 20 of the 24 lawsuits that had been filed against him. A 25th lawsuit was previously dropped.
While two Texas grand juries have declined to indict Watson, he could still face punishment, including a suspension and/or fine, if it's found that he violated the NFL's personal conduct policy. As for a timetable for such punishment being issued, this week's hearing is expected to last "multiple days," according to Mark Maske of The Washington Post.