With a decision from disciplinary officer Judge Sue L. Robinson expected on Monday, the NFL Players Association has issued a statement that includes a very strong implication.
“In advance of Judge Robinson’s decision, we wanted to reiterate the facts of this proceeding,” the NFLPA said Sunday night. “First, we have fully cooperated with every NFL inquiry and provided the NFL with the most comprehensive set of information for any Personal Conduct Policy investigation. A former federal judge — appointed jointly by the NFLPA and NFL — held a full and fair hearing, has read thousands of pages of investigative documents and reviewed arguments from both sides impartially. 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. This is why, regardless of her decision, Deshaun and the NFLPA will stand by her ruling and we call on the NFL to do the same.”
Without expressly saying it, this statement strongly suggests that the union and Watson won’t appeal Judge Robinson’s decision, whatever it may be. Subsumed within that position is a quiet confidence that the decision will fall far short of the one-year minimum ban the league office wanted.
The biggest question becomes whether the NFL will abide by her ruling. Last month, the Associated Press reported that the league would be inclined to not appeal a suspension in the range of six to eight games. That report was later disputed. Regardless, the league will have the ability to appeal, unless Judge Robinson imposes no discipline at all.