NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has tapped former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey to hear the appeal of the Cleveland Browns quarterback’s six-game suspension. Deshaun Watson.
The NFL is seeking a tougher punishment under the league’s personal conduct policy following a ruling by disciplinary official Sue L. Robinson on Monday. Under the collective bargaining agreement, Goodell had the option of handling the appeal himself or appointing someone.
A source told ESPN’s Jake Trotter that the NFL is seeking an indefinite suspension of at least one year (as it had previously sought), a fine (which Watson did not levy on Robinson) and treatment for the star quarterback. perform.
Harvey is now a partner at Patterson Belknap in New York. He has also served as a federal prosecutor and is a member of the NFL’s Diversity Advisory Committee, which evaluates diversity in the league.
Noting his qualifications, the league said Harvey “has deep experience in criminal law, including domestic violence and sexual assault, and has advised the NFL and other professional leagues on the development and implementation of workplace policies, including the NFL’s personal conduct policy.”
Harvey also served as Goodell’s attorney in other arbitrations.
Watson has been accused of sexual assault and other misconduct during massage sessions in civil lawsuits filed by 25 women. The collisions mentioned in the cases took place from 2020. March to 2021 March, and Watson was a member of the Houston Texans.
In announcing the six-game suspension, Robinson wrote that “the NFL has met its burden of proving that Mr. Watson sexually assaulted (as defined by the NFL) the four therapists identified in the report. “.
Based on precedent, Robinson sought to distinguish between violent and nonviolent sexual behavior. Robinson concluded that Watson’s behavior “does not fall within the category of violent conduct that would warrant a minimum six-game suspension,” which the league has defined as “the most common discipline for domestic or gender-based violence and sexual acts.”
The Browns traded for Watson in March, sending three first-round picks to the Texans. Cleveland then gave Watson a new five-year contract, the richest deal in NFL history for any player.
ESPN’s Jake Trotter and The Associated Press contributed to this report.