Browns QB Deshaun Watson's disciplinary hearing concludes; wait for decision begins

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson's disciplinary hearing in front of former U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson has concluded after three days in Delaware, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday.

Post-hearing briefs from Watson's and the NFL's representation are due the week of July 11, with a ruling to follow thereafter, Rapoport reported. Although there is no set timeline for when Robinson, who was jointly appointed by the NFL and NFL Players Association, will make her decision on whether Watson violated the NFL's personal conduct policy, Rapoport and NFL Network's Tom Pelissero previously reported that all parties expect a ruling before Browns veterans report to training camp on July 26.

Any potential appeal to Robinson's ruling, by either side, would be handled by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or a person he designates. The ensuing ruling would then be final.

Pelissero reported on Sunday that the NFL was expected to argue for an indefinite suspension of at least one year, and Watson could then apply for reinstatement after the 2022 season. Rusty Hardin, Watson's attorney, and the NFLPA's lawyers were expected to argue that neither the alleged violations against Watson nor precedence of past suspensions handed out by the league support a suspension of such length.

Watson has agreed to confidential settlements with 20 of the 24 women who have filed civil lawsuits alleging he committed sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions. He has denied any wrongdoing and maintained any sex with the women to be consensual. Two grand juries in Texas declined to indict Watson on criminal complaints filed by 10 women.

Watson met with league investigators in May ahead of the disciplinary hearings, which began Tuesday.

"I met with the NFL a couple weeks ago, and I did everything they asked me to do, I answered every question truthfully that the NFL asked me," Watson told reporters on June 14. "I spent hours with the people they brought down, and that's all I can do is just be honest and tell them exactly what happened. I know they have a job and so I have to respect that, and that's what we wanted to do is cooperate. They have to make a decision that's for the league."

Watson has not played in an NFL game since the 2020 season when he was with the Houston Texans. Watson sat out the 2021 season, which followed him requesting a trade out of Houston prior to allegations of sexual misconduct first surfacing in March 2021. The Texans were sued for allegedly enabling Watson's behavior during massage sessions in a suit filed Monday in Harris County, Texas.

The Browns acquired Watson via trade in March 2022 and signed him to a five-year, $230 million fully guaranteed contract.

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