CLEVELAND — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will not be personally hearing the NFL’s appeal of the six-game suspension handed down to Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson; he has appointed a former New Jersey attorney general who has experience advising the NFL.
Goodell appointed Peter C. Harvey as his designee to hear the appeal of the decision made by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson that was announced Monday, according to a statement from the league.
Harvey is currently a partner at the Paterson Belknap firm in New York, and has previously served as a federal prosecutor and as the NFL Commissioner’s designee in other arbitrations.
“He has deep expertise 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,” league officials said.
The NFL is seeking to modify the discipline to include “a professional evaluation and treatment as determined by medical experts, an appropriate fine, and a longer suspension,” according to the league’s statement.
NFL officials said Harvey’s decision “will constitute the full, final and complete disposition of the dispute and will be binding upon the player(s), Club(s), and parties” to the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association.
The NFL's decision to appeal the suspension was reported Wednesday, with sources saying the league was hoping for a stricter decision and a fine for Watson over allegations made by two dozen women of sexual assault and harassment.
Watson's is the first case to be heard by Robinson as part of the new league discipline policy agreed upon in the Collective Bargaining Agreement signed in 2020. As per the CBA, violations of the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy are initially determined by a jointly appointed disciplinary officer after serving as the hearing officer.
Watch our report about the NFL's decision to appeal below:
Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing the 24 women who filed civil suits against Watson alleging sexual misconduct, directed a message at the NFL and Goodell during a news conference Thursday.
"Every victim of sexual assault is watching Roger Goodell and the NFL right now. And this idea that Mr. Goodell is going to hand it off to someone else, independent, we don't buy it," Buzbee said. "Mr. Goodell, what will you do? It's never too late to do the right thing. And that's what these women and those watching are expecting."
Watch Tony Buzbee's Thursday news conference below:
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