Roger Goodell picks former New Jersey attorney general Peter C. Harvey to hear NFL appeal to suspend Deshaun Watson

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has chosen former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey to hear the appeal of a six-game suspension for the Cleveland Browns. Deshaun Watson.

The NFL is seeking a tougher penalty under the league’s personal conduct policy following Monday’s ruling by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson. Under the collective bargaining agreement, Goodell had the option to consider the appeal himself or appoint a representative.

A source told ESPN, the league is appealing an indefinite suspension which will be for at least one year (as previously sought), plus a fine (not imposed by Robinson Watson) and the treatment of the quarterback. must be subject.

“The NFL’s appeal addresses whether, based on Judge Robinson’s findings, the system should be modified to include professional evaluation and treatment as determined by medical experts, an appropriate fine, and a longer suspension,” the league said in a statement. .

Harvey now works as a partner at Patterson Belknap Corporation in New York. He has also served as a federal attorney general and a member of the NFL Diversity Advisory Committee.

Referring to his qualifications, the association said Harvey “has deep experience in criminal law, including domestic violence and sexual assault, and has advised the NFL and other professional associations on the development and implementation of workplace policies, including the Football Association’s Personal Conduct Policy.” American.”

Harvey served as Goodell’s appointee on another arbitration. In 2017, Harvey was one of four members of the expert panel that reviewed the league’s investigation into domestic violence in the declining Dallas Cowboys. Ezekiel ElliotHe was suspended for six matches for breaching the conduct policy.

There is no timetable for when Harvey will hear the appeal. In accordance with the league’s personal conduct policy, this must be done urgently.

Watson is accused of sexual assault and other indecent behavior during massage sessions in civil lawsuits brought by 25 women. The alleged encounters in the lawsuits took place from March 2020 to March 2021, while Watson was a member of the Houston Texans.

In issuing the six-game suspension, Robinson wrote that “the NFL has carried the burden of proving, by the preponderance of the evidence, that Mr. Watson engaged in sexual assault (as defined in the NFL) against the four therapists identified in the report.”

However, in enforcing the suspension, Robinson cited flaws in the league’s guidelines for player misconduct, which limited her power to penalize the player.

While drawing on the former, Robinson sought to distinguish between violent and nonviolent sexual behavior. Robinson concluded that Watson’s behavior “does not fall into the category of violent behavior requiring a minimum six-match suspension” defined by the League as “by far the most commonly imposed discipline of domestic violence or sexual violence and sexual acts”.

The Browns traded for Watson in March, sending three first-round picks to Texas. Then Cleveland gave Watson a new five-year contract that was the richest deal in NFL history for any player.

Jake Trotter of ESPN and The Associated Press contributed to this report.