BEREA, Ohio (WCMH) — Deshaun Watson will start the Browns first preseason game Friday in Jacksonville, according to the team.
The NFL appealed Watson’s six-game suspension handed down by Judge Sue L. Robinson, the independent disciplinary officer jointly appointed by the NFL and NFL Players Association.
Watson will not be allowed to play the preseason game if he is suspended indefinitely or for the season by Peter Harvey, a former New Jersey attorney general handpicked by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to handle the appeal.
Watson, who played for four seasons with Houston before being traded to Cleveland in March, recently settled 23 of 24 lawsuits filed by women alleging sexual harassment and assault during the treatments in 2020 and 2021.
A league official told The Associated Press before Watson’s three-day disciplinary hearing concluded in June that the NFL wanted to avoid an appeal. But the league proceeded with one amid a backlash from some fans and intense public pressure in the media. Other factors include Watson’s lack of remorse, which Robinson noted in her report.
During Watson’s three-day disciplinary hearing, the NFL asked for an indefinite suspension of at least a year. The NFL argued for an unprecedented punishment and wanted to fine Watson at least $5 million, a person familiar with the discussions told the AP on condition of anonymity because the hearing was private.
In her 16-page report, Robinson described Watson’s behavior as “more egregious than any before reviewed by the NFL.”