Deshaun Watson suspension: Roger Goodell nonetheless has ultimate say

By Martin Rogers
FOX Sports activities Columnist

Monday’s resolution on Deshaun Watson – the Cleveland Browns quarterback obtained a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s private conduct coverage – left lots to unpack.

However as soccer tries to make sense of what comes subsequent after the ruling by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson referring to quite a few allegations of sexual misconduct involving two dozen girls, nothing is extra placing than this: Commissioner Roger Goodell faces arguably the trickiest, most nuanced and controversial resolution of his tenure.

Goodell is in an unenviable spot that can earn him criticism no matter he does. Such is the character of such issues, and that’s why he makes the large bucks, however it’s a rocky highway nonetheless.

The NFL didn’t get what it needed from Robinson’s ruling and punishment, which didn’t impose a monetary sanction. She described Watson’s actions as “egregious,” termed his conduct as “non-violent sexual conduct,” mandated him to not obtain massages from anybody besides team-approved personnel and imposed different behavioral expectations.

Throughout a three-day listening to earlier than Robinson in June, the league pushed for a full-season suspension that may have seen Watson sit out greater than 2.5 years by its conclusion.

In current days, in response to a number of studies, additional settlement discussions weren’t resolved as a result of the NFL Gamers Affiliation wouldn’t conform to a ban longer than six video games, and the league was steadfast in wanting a minimal of a 12-game ban, together with a hefty nice.

If the NFL appeals, and it has three days to take action, the ultimate resolution rests with Goodell. The league’s disciplinary course of was arrange throughout the newest collective bargaining discussions. The NFLPA needed to keep away from conditions the place penalties may very well be meted out to gamers in circumstances of incomplete or inconclusive proof.

For instance, had Robinson discovered no wrongdoing on the a part of Watson, who has settled 23 of the 24 civil circumstances in opposition to him, Goodell would not be capable to implement any suspension.

However now, following Robinson’s judgment, Goodell should weigh his personal choices and analyze whether or not to wield his energy. 

If he have been to extend Watson’s ban, it could ship a robust message in regards to the NFL’s willpower to take a heavy stance in opposition to sexual misconduct by its gamers.

But when he alters the phrases of the punishment, it’d undermine the method set in place by the CBA and undercut the choice by Robinson – a extremely revered former federal decide with many years of authorized expertise.

“The NFL now must grapple with whether Roger Goodell is a more fair/accurate/appropriate arbiter of justice in the Deshaun Watson case than an impartially appointed federal judge who weighed the presented evidence for a month,” Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson wrote. “It’s a sizable question with a consequential answer.”

A sterner stance by Goodell additionally raises the chance that the NFLPA, which strongly urged the NFL to simply accept Robinson’s ruling, might take authorized motion in federal court docket, a step that may prolong the matter past the beginning of the brand new season, and probably a lot additional.

That danger needs to be weighed in opposition to the potential P.R. backlash of standing pat. Inside minutes of Robinson’s resolution, social media was evaluating Watson’s ban to the full-season suspension handed to Atlanta Falcons large receiver Calvin Ridley for playing on video games.

“I would be truly shocked if the NFL simply accepts this and moves on,” FS1’s Nick Wright mentioned, on “First Things First.” “I think it is going to be incredibly difficult for the NFL to not up this somewhat. Will they up it to the full season they asked for? Maybe not. But I think they are going to up it, yes.”

Watson’s repute has taken a monumental hit. Your entire state of affairs has been a completely disagreeable story, and the optics of a participant underneath investigation for inappropriate actions towards girls receiving the most important contract in NFL historical past have been removed from excellent.

The Browns took their shot and obtained their man. From their standpoint, a six-game penalty is on essentially the most favorable facet of what might have been realistically anticipated, even with the NFLPA’s having argued for zero video games.

As a result of Watson was not suspended for a full season, he was on the coaching facility Monday and may proceed as a part of Cleveland’s preseason plans. He may even be capable to be a part of the squad in Week 4 for apply forward of a possible Week 7 return on the Baltimore Ravens on Oct. 23.

Till then, there’s extra to unfold. Monday’s information will not be essentially the ultimate step. All that basically occurred was that the matter reached an important crossroads.

And Goodell is standing at that exact spot, figuring out the following transfer is on him.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports activities and the writer of the FOX Sports activities Insider publication. You can subscribe to the every day publication right here.

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