CLEVELAND — On Thursday, NBC Sports and ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio reported that Roger Goodell would not be hearing the league's appeal of Deshaun Watson's six-game suspension for violating the league's Personal Conduct Policy.
We now know who will be taking the NFL Commissioner's place.
According to multiple reports, Goodell has selected former New Jersey Attorney General and lawyer Peter C. Harvey as his designee in the NFL's appeal of the Cleveland Browns quarterback's suspension. Notably, Harvey is a member of the NFL's Diversity Advisory Committee and served as an adviser to the league during its personal conduct investigation into Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott in 2017.
That investigation ultimately resulted in Elliott being suspended for six games following allegations of domestic violence.
Earlier this week, former U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson, who was jointly appointed as the disciplinary officer in Watson's case, issued a six-game suspension and ruled that he could only receive massages from team therapists after finding that the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback violated the league's Personal Conduct Policy on the following three counts:
- Conduct that Qualifies as a Sexual Assault
- Conduct that Poses a Genuine Danger to the Safety and Well-Being of Another Person
- Conduct that Undermines, or Puts at Risk, the Integrity of the NFL
But while Robinson, who was jointly appointed by the NFL and NFL Players Association was tasked with issuing Watson's punishment, the Collective Bargaining Agreement gives both sides the ability to make an appeal on her ruling, which is then heard by Goodell or a designee. The outcome of the appeal is considered final and binding for both parties, per the CBA.
In making its appeal, the NFL is reportedly seeking an indefinite suspension lasting no less than the entirety of the 2022 season, a fine and treatment. While Watson has settled 23 of 24 the civil suits accusing him of sexual misconduct, the league's disciplinary process has focused on the allegations of four specific accusers.