NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson is expected to render a ruling Monday on whether Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson violated the league’s personal conduct policy, sources confirm. at ESPN.
Ahead of Robinson’s decision, the NFL Players Association released a statement late Sunday that the union and Watson “will stand by its decision” and called on the NFL “to do the same.”
“Prior to Judge Robinson’s decision, we wanted to reiterate the facts of this proceeding,” the NFLPA statement read. “First, we have fully cooperated with each NFL investigation and provided the NFL with the most comprehensive set of information for any personal conduct policy investigation. A former federal judge – jointly appointed by the NFLPA and the NFL – held a full and fair hearing, read thousands of pages of investigative materials and considered the arguments of both parties impartially.
“Every player, owner, business partner and stakeholder deserves to know that our process is legitimate and will not be tarnished by the whims of the League office. That is why, regardless of his decision, Deshaun and the NFLPA will will stand by their decision and we call on the NFL to do the same.”
Watson was charged with sexual assault and improper conduct during massage sessions in civil lawsuits brought by 25 women. The encounters cited in the lawsuits took place between March 2020 and March 2021, when Watson was a member of the Houston Texans. One of the 25 lawsuits was dropped following a judge’s ruling in April 2021 that the plaintiffs should amend their motions to release their names. In June, Watson settled 20 of the 24 lawsuits he faced; the other four remain active and are on track to be tried next year.
Last month, the Texans reached settlements with 30 women who made claims or were willing to make claims against the organization for its alleged role in the allegations against Watson.
Robinson heard arguments from the league, union and Watson’s attorney during a three-day hearing held in his home state of Delaware in late June. The NFL called for a suspension of at least one year, while the NFLPA and Watson’s attorney argued the quarterback shouldn’t be suspended at all. The parties discussed a potential settlement throughout the hearing, but could not agree on a deal.
Although two grand juries in Texas declined to prosecute Watson earlier this year, the NFL is investigating whether he has violated its personal conduct policy since last year. The NFL interviewed Watson for several days earlier this summer. League investigators also spoke to several of the women.
Watson has always denied any wrongdoing and said he does not regret any of his actions during the massage sessions. Watson also said he cooperated with the NFL’s investigation and “answered all questions honestly” put to him by league investigators.
The Browns traded for Watson in March, sending three first-round picks to the Texans. Cleveland then gave Watson a new five-year contract worth $230 million fully guaranteed, the richest deal in NFL history for any player.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said last week that Jacoby Brissett would become Cleveland’s starter if Watson were to be suspended. The Browns had Sunday off from training camp, but are scheduled to resume practice Monday.
CBS Sports first reported that Robinson’s decision is expected on Monday.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler contributed to this report.