Roger Goodell

Latest Following Deshaun Watson Settlement

The reactions have been plentiful concerning the settlement reached between the NFL and the NFLPA last month on the punishment for Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson. The settlement came after the NFL decided to appeal the initial ruling from retired judge Sue Robinson of a six-game ban. Many thought the ban too lenient but the NFLPA threatened to take the matter to court if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell decided to make the ban last for a full season. Thus, the two parties arrived at the negotiated settlement for an 11-game ban, a $5MM fine, and mandatory counseling. 

There is still one victim of Watson’s actions who, unlike the NFL, refuses to settle with the new Browns’ quarterback. Lauren Baxley is the only one out of 24 plaintiffs who refuses to settle with Watson. In a statement article released by, Baxley delineated what keeps her from signing the dotted line.

“I have rejected all settlement offers, in part because they have not included any sincere acknowledgment of remorse and wrongdoings,” Baxley explained. “Watson still refuses to admit that he harassed and committed indecent assault against me. Any settlement offer he has made has been a dismissal of his evil actions.”

This is not an uncommon sentiment. An NFL senior advisor offered similar remarks in an article by Mary Kay Cabot of Rita Smith, a former 23-year executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence who now advises the NFL on matters of domestic violence and sexual assault, was disturbed by the heel-turn Watson made last month. Watson appeared to offer an apology to his accusers before the team’s preseason game on August 12, but, in a press conference about the settlement six days later, continued to remark on his own innocence in the matter, effectively wiping out any good will from what seemed to be an apology less than a week before. Smith told that she feels “like he’s playing us.”

Once again, this is not an uncommon sentiment. Reportedly, a high-ranking owner has become increasingly provoked by Watson’s lack of contrition, according to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. Volin reports that one of the terms of the settlement was that Watson would “publicly show remorse” while Watson continues to “stand on [his] innocence.” Like Smith above, this owner also claims to “feel played by Watson.” The owner asserts that, should Watson continue not to show remorse, they may push for Goodell not to reinstate Watson at the conclusion of his 11-game ban.

The sentiment to push for a full-season ban is one not all owners share, though, according to Peter King of NBC Sports. According to King, some owners didn’t want Watson suspended for the full year. Instead, they preferred a suspension shorter than 17 games so that the Browns might be penalized for the fully-guaranteed structure of Watson’s contract. If Watson were to be suspended for all of the 2022 season, his contract would rollover one year, through the 2027 season. If Watson becomes eligible for some of the season, though, the Browns will owe him $40MM despite him only appearing in what is currently six games, and his contract will expire on time after the 2026 season.

All of this is yet to be seen. He may in the future show remorse, allowing him to settle with Baxley, the last remaining plaintiff, and endearing him to the league’s advisor on domestic violence and sexual assault. He may continue to stand on his innocence and provoke the NFL to extend his ban for not upholding the terms of the settlement.

For now, though, it appears that Watson has begun his league-mandated counseling, according to a more recent King article from NBC Sports. The hope seems to be that, through counseling, Watson will be able to understand “why he sought treatment from 66 massage therapists in 18 months;” that there’s a very real possibility that he did something wrong. While it may take years to reach any closure on the matter, Watson fulfilling the counseling mandate is as productive an action as we can hope to expect at this time.

Latest On NFL’s Deshaun Watson Appeal

2:59pm: Peter Harvey, a former New Jersey Attorney General, will hear the league’s Watson appeal. Goodell had the power to hear the appeal himself, but the longtime commissioner has appointed Harvey, who is now a partner at the New York-based Paterson Belknap firm. The NFL’s statement (via’s Mike Garafolo, on Twitter) indicates Harvey has “deep expertise in criminal law, including domestic violence and sexual assault.” Harvey also helped implement the NFL’s personal conduct policy, Mary Kay Cabot of notes.

10:23am: It came out yesterday that, as many around the NFL had been hoping and expecting, the league will appeal the six-game suspension handed down to Deshaun Watson. Further details have emerged regarding the specifics of the NFL’s options to proceed and some of their intended outcomes.

One of the central questions is the matter of who will hear the league’s appeal. Commissioner Roger Goodell has  the option to oversee the matter personally, or have an appointee do so. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that Goodell will delegate to “someone not with the league office” (Twitter link). The NFL has faced public pressure to file an appeal, but also had to weigh that against the reality that doing so would appear to undermine the ruling of retired judge Sue L. Robinson, the independent third party authorized under the new CBA to render a decision.

As has been known for some time, the league will be using the appeal as another attempt to sideline the Browns QB for at least one season. Part of the incentive to do so, as noted by CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones (on Twitter), is the fact that Watson’s deal is set to pay him the league minimum (thus severely lessening the financial penalty of a suspension) and his “lack of remorse.” Watson’s contract isn’t unique amongst other Browns stars in that regard, but it has understandably been considered a “sticking point” from the league’s perspective.

Increasing the six-game suspension to an indefinite one, but not including a fine remains one outcome of a successful appeal, per Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson (Twitter link). Alternatively, the league could aim for a ban of less than one season; in that scenario, a fine would come into play. In any event, Robinson adds that a central goal of the NFL is to avoid Watson being eligible in time for the Browns’ Week 12 game against the Texans, which will be played in Houston.

Of course, any action which increases the punishment levied against Watson could lead to the matter being taken to federal court by the NFLPA. The threat of that action could lead to a revival of settlement talks, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (video link). He adds, however, that the league would likely view “a substantial number of games” in addition to “a significant fine” as the starting point for any negotiations.

As Pelissero notes, an indefinite ban would render Watson ineligible to participate in the remainder of training camp and the preseason, so any further legal action in his defense would be expedited by a heavier suspension. In any event, there is more to come in this saga.

Will NFL Appeal Deshaun Watson Ban?

The current CBA gives the NFL the right to appeal disciplinary officer Sue Robinson’s suspension of Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, who as of now is slated to miss this season’s first six games. The NFLPA announced it would not appeal Robinson’s ban, though that might not be especially telling of the union’s intentions regarding Watson. Roger Goodell or a Goodell appointee could overrule an NFLPA appeal.

With less than 24 hours until the deadline (8am CT Thursday) for the NFL to file an appeal, no such move has been made. While the league could elect to let Robinson’s ruling stand, her determination of Watson’s actions opens the door to Goodell adding games to the ban.

[RELATED: Watson Settles Three Of Remaining Four Civil Lawsuits]

Goodell should be expected to increase Watson’s suspension, sources informed’s Aaron Wilson. Such an increase would likely come with a “significant” addition to Watson’s ban. It could also lead to a scenario in which Watson is on the field to start the season.

The NFLPA would have until Monday to file its own countermeasure, but with the CBA giving Goodell the final say, the union’s only realistic hope at outflanking the league would be in court. It tried this in 2015 with Tom Brady‘s Deflategate ban, and that lengthy court saga kept the then-Patriots quarterback on the field throughout that season. Brady’s four-game ban, however, remained in effect; it was merely delayed to 2016. Ezekiel Elliott also played after being handed a six-game suspension in 2017, via an injunction, but the Cowboys running back ultimately served the ban that year.

Cleveland’s schedule stiffens after its first four games come against teams with either uncertain quarterback situations or unproven signal-callers. From Weeks 5-15, the Browns face the Chargers, Patriots, Bills, Buccaneers and have both their Bengals and Ravens matchups in that span. Watson playing early and being suspended during the season would run the risk of the three-time Pro Bowler missing this stretch. Of course, Goodell could use Robinson’s language to drop a season-long suspension — the NFL’s goal during the June hearing. The NFLPA taking the NFL to court in that instance opens the door to Watson’s penalty dragging into 2023, a la Brady’s situation seven years ago.

These potential outcomes would depend on how long the matter stays in court. The NFL standing down here would open it up to more criticism regarding the lighter-than-expected (by many) sentence given to Watson, considering Robinson’s report indicated Watson committed sexual assault. But the league appealing and being taken to court would also keep the lightning-rod Browns QB in the spotlight longer.

NFLPA Pledges Not To Appeal Watson Decision, Pleads For NFL To Join

Contrary to what many assumed would occur after disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson delivers her decision, it appears the NFL Players Association will not appeal Robinson’s ruling and it is calling “on the NFL to do the same.” The NFLPA released its joint statement with Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson on Twitter today, leaving no question as to their message. 

In the statement, they emphasize their cooperation and participation in the personal conduct policy investigation. They also underline the credentials of the ruling officer, Robinson, and announce their support for the validity and comprehensiveness of the hearing. They end the statement by asserting that they will choose not to question the legitimacy of their process by appealing Robinson’s ruling, and they ask the League to do the same.

This is an interesting decision by the NFLPA that seems to point out a glaring hole in the league’s appeal process. Many initially saw this as a reason to believe that the Players Association had some early indication of a favorable ruling and wanted to make sure the League won’t fight it by pressuring a statement of its own. But, upon further review of the appeal process, it makes perfect sense that the NFLPA wouldn’t want to appeal the ruling.

In the case of an appeal by either side, the decision leaves the hands of Robinson and falls into the lap of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Goodell is the assigned party to make the determination over any appeals. This makes the words of the NFLPA’s statement a lot more meaningful when they said:

“Every player, owner, business partner and stakeholder deserves to know that our process is legitimate and will not be tarnished based on the whims of the League office.”

Essentially, the Players Association has every reason in the world to avoid a precedent being set wherein the ruling of the independent hearing officer is easily overruled by the League and its commissioner. It would be most beneficial for the NFLPA to ensure that Goodell has no involvement in the final decision. The only way to do that is to honor the ruling made by Robinson.

Watson and the NFL continued their engagement in settlement talks in the days leading up to this ruling, but apparently the two sides were never able to get close, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN. Watson’s side was willing to accept a ban of six to eight games. The League’s initial punishment was “an indefinite suspension with (the) right to apply for reinstatement after a certain number of games.” At the end of settlement negotiations, the League’s final offer was a 12-game ban with heavy fines, nearing the range of $8MM, with the fines taking the place of the indefinite ban.

Since no settlement was reached, the ruling will hold precedence, unless either side appeals. The only way neither side can appeal is if Robinson rules that Watson did not violate the league’s personal conduct policy. It appears the NFLPA is, at least, under the impression that Robinson won’t reach that conclusion, and they’d rather an appeal doesn’t allow Goodell to side with the League.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if this wrinkle in the league’s disciplinary process becomes a focal point in the next CBA negotiations when the current active agreement expires at the end of the 2030 season. Until then, it appears the Players Association will have to hope they can set a precedent wherein the two parties choose to respect the decision of the independent arbiter, keeping the final say out of the hands of the League’s commissioner.

5 Key Stories: 6/26/22 – 7/3/22

Even in the quietest part of the offseason, there were still some significant developments around the NFL. Here’s a quick rundown of the week’s top headlines:

  • Watson Hearing Concludes: The top offseason storyline in the league reached another critical stage, as the hearing presided over by Sue Robinson concluded after three days. Her decision on whether Browns QB Deshaun Watson will be suspended – and if so, for how long – will be the next step in this process, and could be delayed by a matter of weeks. Any appeals process (which would be administered by commissioner Roger Goodell or his appointee) would then follow, and have drastic consequences on Watson, the Browns and, given the precedent it could set, any players who find themselves in a similar situation in the future.
  • McLaurin Signs Extension With Commanders: The offseason was building towards Terry McLaurin signing a lucrative extension in Washington, and he did just that by inking a three-year deal. The pact carries an average annual value of $23.3MM, and includes a signing bonus of $28MM. With the new contract in hand, McLaurin will see significant guaranteed money, while still being eligible for another significant deal at the age of 30.
  • Mayfield Dispels Talk Of Browns Reconciliation: With a Watson suspension looming, many have pointed to Baker Mayfield as the Browns’ best QB option in 2022. He remains on the roster, as trade talks have sputtered throughout the offseason, but the fences between himself and the team still aren’t likely to be mended. “I think it’s pretty obvious the mutual decision on both sides is to move on,” he said, when asked about the possibility of rescinding his trade request to play out the final year of his contract in Cleveland. Finding a trade partner could still remain challenging for the team, though.
  • 49ers Nearing Samuel Extension?: With McLaurin (and fellow 2019 draftee A.J. Brown) having signed big-money extensions, attention will turn even more so to the 49ers and Deebo Samuel. It was reported that, as trade talk cools around the highly-productive ‘wide-back,’ the team is “expected to continue working toward” a new deal with Samuel. In that event, he could find himself under contract by training camp later this month, presumably joining the $20MM-per-year WR club as many others have already done this offseason along the way.
  • Texans Facing First Watson Suit: The civil litigation filed against Watson has been well-documented, and, even after 20 of those suits were settled, will remain a significant storyline into, quite possibly, next offseason. Another development related his case, though, was the news that the first lawsuit related to his conduct while with the Texans was filed against the franchise itself. A statement from plaintiff’s attorney Tony Buzbee suggested that many others could follow, claiming that “the overwhelming evidence collected indicating that the Houston Texans enabled Watson’s behavior is incredibly damning.”

Latest On Brian Flores Lawsuit

Earlier this week, there was another update in the matter of the Brian Flores-led lawsuit against the NFL and six of its teams. As expected, the league attempted to have the matter moved to arbitration

Just as that came as no surprise, Flores and his fellow plaintiffs Steve Wilks and Ray Horton are likewise taking the expected step of trying to stop the league from doing so. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that they made a direct request to the league to provide “certain information… that will be relevant to the issue of whether arbitration is appropriate.”

Since the initial request was denied, the plaintiffs have now asked the federal court overseeing this case to compel the NFL to provide said documentation. A six-page letter they sent includes a detailed list of the particular information requested, ranging from general procedures regarding arbitration and the circumstances necessitating it, to more specific materials detailing commissioner Roger Goodell‘s involvement in previous legal matters.

One of the other interesting requests made includes that for “all documents regarding any statements or communication among NFL senior executives regarding the plaintiffs, the lawsuit, and the allegations in the complaints.” Another is for “all documents supporting or undermining the contention that the plaintiffs agreed to arbitrate their claims with the NFL,” which attempted to use the precedent set by arbitration as standard procedure when making its case to resolve the issue privately.

As Florio details, another aim of the plaintiffs is to question Goodell on the matter of arbitration, including the issue of whether or not he could represent a neutral adjudicator in the case. Given Flores’ earlier remarks, that also comes as little surprise, as it represents a further attempt to keep the matter in public for as long as possible.

With forced arbitration, my case will be litigated behind closed doors, confidentially and without transparency, essentially done in secrecy,” he said in March. If he and his legal team have their way, though, that situation could be avoided.

NFL Attempts To Move Brian Flores Lawsuit To Arbitration

The latest development in the ongoing legal dispute between Brian Flores and the NFL is a notable, if unsurprising, one. The league formally requested a federal court send the matter to arbitration, as detailed by Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic

The move was widely expected, as the NFL clearly stated its intentions of doing so much earlier in this process. As its filing indicates, arbitration is the “preferred venue” for the league to settle disputes such as this one. It argues that little precedent exists for courts to handle the internal matters of sports leagues, which, it further states, is the purview under which Flores’ bribery allegations against Dolphins owner Stephen Ross (along with his other claims) should fall.

The league is also attempting to get former coaches Steve Wilks and Ray Horton – who joined Flores’ suit as co-plaintiffs in April – to “sever their cases and file separate arbitration claims.” Just as those decisions come as little surprise, so to does the response made by Flores himself.

“With forced arbitration, my case will be litigated behind closed doors, confidentially and without transparency, essentially done in secrecy,” he said in March, knowing arbitration would be a strong possibility. Given the scope of his allegations made against the league in general, and the Dolphins, Texans, Giants, Broncos (and, after the addition of Wilks and Horton, the Cardinals and Titans), public proceedings would understandably be the plaintiff’s preferred avenue.

Flores was hired by the Steelers as the team’s linebackers coach in February, less than a month after his lawsuit was filed. Kaplan notes, however, that his contract has yet to be formally signed off by commissioner Roger Goodell, something which is standard practice for NFL employment contracts. He adds that the pact “had a minor adjustment [made to it] shortly before the filing, but nothing that will hold it up.”

As a busy offseason for the league continues with respect to off-the-field issues, this legal battle could take a notable turn in the near future if its move for arbitration is allowed to go through. Even in that event, this appears set to remain a significant storyline.

House Oversight Committee To Subpoena Commanders Owner Dan Snyder

Although the House Oversight Committee requested testimony from Dan Snyder and Roger Goodell, only the commissioner showed up for the Wednesday hearing. Snyder, via a representative indicating he was scheduled to be out of the country, refused the request.

But the committee plans to go a step further during its investigation into the Commanders. Chairperson Carolyn Maloney said she would issue a subpoena to Snyder for a deposition next week.

Mr. Snyder has not been held accountable,” Maloney said, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Washington Post (on Twitter). “His refusal to testify sends a clear message that he is more concerned about protecting himself than coming clean with the American people. If the NFL is unwilling or unable to hold Mr. Snyder accountable, then I am prepared to do so.”

This marks one of a few issues the embattled Washington owner faces. The committee accused Snyder of conducting a “shadow investigation” aimed at discrediting former team employees and journalists amid the NFL’s inquiry into allegations of workplace misconduct, according to the Washington Post’s Mark Maske, Liz Clarke and Jhabvala. The league’s investigation wrapped last year, but after the league failed to issue a written report, Congress launched its own investigation into Snyder and the Commanders.

The alleged Snyder-driven counterstrike effort attempted to accuse former team president Bruce Allen of being primarily responsible for the workplace issues that came under scrutiny. Snyder fired Allen after the 2019 season.

Goodell attributed the lack of a written report in Beth Wilkinson’s Washington investigation to select former Washington employees seeking anonymity, but the committee’s findings during its probe revealed the NFL had planned for Wilkinson to issue a report instead of an oral summary. The committee uncovered a document indicating a September 2020 agreement between the NFL and Wilkinson’s firm that a written report — outlining the findings in the league’s inquiry into accusations of Washington workplace misconduct — would be in the cards, per Jhabvala. Goodell has been accused to changing that plan, prompting Congressional involvement.

The NFL’s investigation into Snyder and his franchise did result in the owner ceding day-to-day operations to his wife, Tanya Snyder. Goodell said Wednesday he believes that arrangement is still in place nearly a year later.

Another report, from the Washington Post’s Will Hobson, revealed Dan Snyder settled with a former employee who accused him of sexual assault in 2009. The woman accused Snyder of sexually harassing and assaulting her, leading to a $1.6MM settlement. Snyder has denied the allegations, with a team investigation accusing the alleged victim of an extortion attempt. When asked about that report Wednesday, Goodell said he did not recall if Snyder informed him of the allegation and settlement. Teams are required to inform Goodell of such allegations, per the personal conduct policy (Twitter links via Jhabvala and The Athletic’s Lindsay Jones).

Snyder-centered scandals have engulfed his franchise for years, and though the longtime owner has brought considerable negative PR to the NFL during his tenure, owners were — as of May — not planning a legitimate push to remove him from his post. Owners have, however, begun to grow tired of the constant smoke surrounding Snyder. His deposition before Congress stands to represent an important chapter during his controversial run as an NFL owner.

Daniel Snyder, Roger Goodell Requested To Testify At House Oversight Committee Hearing

JUNE 20: Goodell has agreed to testify at Wednesday’s hearing, Tom Pelissero of reports (on Twitter). Goodell will testify remotely, however. Snyder’s refusal to testify this week prompted a Committee response.

If Mr. Snyder was truly committed to cooperating with the Committee’s investigation, he would have accepted the Committee’s invitation to testify about the Commanders’ toxic workplace culture,” a Committee spokesperson said, via Keim. “As the Chairwoman’s letter made clear, the Committee has been more than accommodating — even allowing Mr. Snyder to testify remotely from France. His refusal to testify sends an unmistakable signal that Mr. Snyder has something to hide and is afraid of coming clean to the American public and addressing major worker protection concerns facing the NFL.”

JUNE 15: Snyder has turned down the Oversight Committee’s request. Indicating he will be out of the country June 22, the Commanders owner will not testify, John Keim of reports. This had been the long-expected outcome, Keim adds. A letter from attorney Karen Patton Seymour notes Snyder had a “longstanding Commanders-related business conflict and is out of the country on the first and only date the Committee has proposed for the hearing.”

The letter also indicates Snyder would be willing to testify if the date is changed. The Committee intends to move forward with the hearing, absent the embattled owner. It is not yet known if Goodell will testify before the Committee next week.

JUNE 1: The subject of the Washington Commanders’ workplace culture continues to be an issue for the NFL. Wednesday, the House Oversight Committee, which has been investigating the Commanders for months, invited Daniel Snyder and Roger Goodell to testify in a June 22 hearing.

Snyder’s long-scrutinized tenure as the NFC East franchise’s owner has become an increasingly higher-profile topic for the league. Rumors of frustration among other owners, due to the Snyder-centered scandals that have emerged in recent years, have emerged. Wednesday’s development will certainly not cool anything down.

The hearing is the next step in the Committee’s months-long investigation into the Commanders’ hostile workplace culture and will also examine the NFL’s handling of allegations of workplace misconduct, the NFL’s role in setting and enforcing standards across the league, and legislative reforms needed to address these issues across the NFL and other workplaces,” the Committee said in its statement.

Last year, the NFL fined Snyder $10MM as a result of an investigation into sexual harassment allegations from 15 former Washington Football Team employees. The fallout from this proved controversial for the league, which did not produce a written report of the findings. The NFL also did not suspend Snyder, who took a backseat to his wife, Tanya, regarding day-to-day operations. This came under the purview of Congress late last year, when it began its own investigation.

Since we launched our investigation in October, the Committee’s goal has been to uncover the truth about the culture of harassment and abuse at the Washington Commanders, to hold accountable those responsible, and to better protect workers across the country,” said New York Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Committee chairwoman. “The Committee has worked tirelessly to obtain critical information, including the findings of the internal investigation conducted by attorney Beth Wilkinson, only to be met with obstruction from the Commanders and the NFL at every turn.

We must have transparency and accountability, which is why we are calling on Mr. Goodell and Mr. Snyder to answer the questions they have dodged for the last seven months. The hearing will explore how Congress can act to prevent employers from silencing victims of workplace misconduct and ensure that what happened at the Commanders organization does not happen again.”

Issuing similar statements, the Commanders and the NFL said they would issue responses to the invites “in a timely manner,” via Tom Pelissero of (Twitter links). The Commanders’ statement indicated they have complied with all previous Committee requests.

Wilkinson’s investigation lasted 10 months; the Oversight Committee’s ensuing probe is approaching that benchmark. The Federal Trade Commission has also been investigating the Commanders’ alleged financial wrongdoing, adding to the turmoil currently engulfing Snyder. Attorneys general in Virginia and Washington D.C. announced subsequent investigations into this matter. The team has denied those allegations. Earlier this year, the NFL launched an investigation into this matter as well.

The embattled owner may not be on the verge of losing his team, one he has owned since 1999, but these controversies continue to generate concern among Snyder’s peers. An actual suspension for the Commanders owner has been floated. The forthcoming hearing will not help matters on this front.

Goodell: Deshaun Watson Investigation Winding Down

Embroiled in what has become a career-defining scandal for more than 14 months now, Deshaun Watson will learn his NFL punishment soon. Roger Goodell said the league is “nearing the end” of its investigatory process, via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The league met with Watson last week and is expected to meet with the Browns quarterback again in an investigation that defense attorney Rusty Hardin expects to end by June or July. The 22 civil suits Watson is facing, however, will not be complete until 2023, per Charles Robinson of The NFL’s initial punishment will commence far before the civil trials conclude.

Both Watson’s legal team and Tony Buzbee, who is representing the massage therapists who have accused the Pro Bowl passer of sexual misconduct and/or sexual assault, have agreed not to go through depositions between August 1 and March 1. When the civil trials wrap, the NFL could impose additional punishment. While it is uncertain if the league will end up punishing Watson, a suspension has long been expected. The Browns structured Watson’s five-year, $230MM contract in a way that would anticipate punishment, dropping his 2022 base salary to a league-minimum $1.1MM.

The NFL has met with more than half of Watson’s accusers, Albert Breer of notes. Independent arbitrator Sue Robinson, a former U.S. District Court Judge, will render the initial verdict. The NFL and NFLPA can appeal her decision, which would send the matter to Goodell, who has drawn scrutiny for his disciplinary decisions for much of his tenure as commissioner.

HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel recently aired a piece featuring two of Watson’s accusers, Kyla Hayes and Ashley Solis, detailing their allegations. While Watson and his camp have continued to deny all accusations of wrongdoing, Hardin has acknowledged his team was “not going to win the battle of public opinion,” via Cabot. Though two grand juries did not charge Watson, players do not need to be charged with crimes to be suspended. Considering the ongoing civil trials hanging over Watson until 2023, the sixth-year veteran will undoubtedly play this season amid controversy.