NFL to appeal Browns quarterback Watson’s six game suspension

By Rory Carroll

(Reuters) – The National Football League on Wednesday said it would appeal the six-game suspension given to Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy following allegations of sexual misconduct.

On Monday, former U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson said Watson had violated the league’s personal conduct policy “in various ways” after more than 20 women accused him of sexual misconduct and abuse.

The league had sought an indefinite suspension of at least one year. Robinson had based the duration of six weeks on previous NFL suspensions.

“The NFL notified the NFLPA that it will appeal Judge Robinson’s disciplinary decision and filed its brief this afternoon,” a spokesman for the NFL told Reuters in a statement.

“Commissioner Roger Goodell will determine who will hear the appeal.”

Under the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy, the appeal will be limited to the considerations of discipline imposed and based on a review of the existing evidence.

The NFL Players Association may choose to challenge the appeal ruling in federal court.

All but four of the 24 lawsuits that alleged sexual assault by Watson were settled in June after more than 20 women came forward last year.

A Texas grand jury previously declined to indict Watson.

In March, the 26-year-old Watson denied sexually assaulting or acting in an inappropriate manner towards any of the 22 women who had made complaints against him at the time.

Watson, who did not play last season, joined the Browns from the Houston Texans in March this year, signing a five-year, $230 million contract.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, editing by Pritha Sarkar)