AP sources: No decision in Watson discipline case this week
The wait for a decision on potential discipline for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson following accusations of sexual misconduct will continue into another week.
Two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that retired judge Sue L. Robinson is not issuing a ruling Friday on Watson’s disciplinary hearing that concluded a month ago. They spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the discussions are private.
Watson was accused of sexual harassment and assault by 24 massage therapists in Texas and has settled 20 of the civil lawsuits filed against him. Four lawsuits remain pending and the attorney representing the women has said he hopes to take them to trial sometime next spring.
Two separate Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal complaints stemming from the allegations.
Watson, who played for four seasons with Houston before being traded to Cleveland in March, has been practicing with the Browns while Robinson has spent weeks trying to determine whether the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy and whether to impose discipline.
The league argued for an indefinite suspension of at least one year during a three-day hearing in Delaware last month. The NFL Players’ Association pushed for no punishment, though a person familiar with Watson’s defense told the AP in June that a suspension is expected and the goal is to have Watson play this season.
Both sides submitted post-hearing briefs by July 12 and hoped for a decision before training camp opened this week. Robinson is carefully considering the case and isn’t held to a deadline.
If Robinson, who was jointly appointed by the league and the players’ union, imposes any punishment, either side can appeal. In that case, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or his designee “will issue a written decision that will constitute full, final and complete disposition of the dispute,” per terms of Article 46 in the collective bargaining agreement.
Jacoby Brissett would replace Watson as Cleveland’s starter during any suspension.
Amid the uncertainty, the team is going about its normal routine in training camp.
Coach Kevin Stefanski has provided little information about Watson’s situation and reiterated Friday that there’s not much he or anyone can do at this point.
“You control the controllables,” he said. “I control what goes on at this field and I’ll continue to do that. All of my discussions with Deshaun or any of the guys on the team we will keep internal.”
Watson is not expected to speak to the media until there is a resolution.
On Saturday, he’ll practice in front of fans at the team’s training complex in Berea, Ohio, for the first time since the Browns dealt three first-round draft picks to the Texans for the 26-year-old and then signed him to a five-year, $230 million contract,
Earlier this month, 30 women who had accused the Houston Texans of turning a blind eye to the allegations against Watson settled their legal claims against the team.
AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.
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