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Former New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey was appointed Thursday to oversee the NFL’s appeal of Deshaun Watson’s six-game suspension after independent disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson issued her recommendation for the Cleveland Browns quarterback earlier this week.
The league issued a statement confirming Harvey, who served as attorney general from 2003-2006, as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s designee for the appeals process.
“Mr. Harvey served as the Attorney General of New Jersey and is now a partner at the Patterson Belknap firm in New York,” the statement read. “He has also served as a federal prosecutor. 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. Mr. Harvey has also served as the Commissioner’s designee in other arbitrations.”
Robinson, a former federal judge, released a 16-page report which concluded Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy on three points after 24 women came forward with accusations of sexual assault, but she pointed to the league’s previous rulings as part of the basis of her six-game suspension decision.
Robinson explained her decision was, in part, based on “existing disciplinary standards and prior disciplinary outcomes.”
The NFL previously recommended an indefinite suspension, at least through the 2022 season, and on Wednesday announced it would be appealing Robinson’s decision.
“Under the 2020 NFL-NFLPA collective bargaining agreement (‘CBA’), the factual findings of the Disciplinary Officer are binding and may not be appealed. Judge Robinson found that Mr. Watson violated the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy on multiple occasions and suspended him for six games. The CBA affords the NFL or NFLPA the right to appeal the discipline imposed by the Disciplinary Officer,” a league spokesperson said in a statement.
Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing the women who sued Watson over allegations of sexual assault, called on the NFL to “do the right thing.”
“Every victim of sexual assault is watching Roger Goodell and the NFL right now. … Mr. Goodell, what will you do? It’s never too late to do the right thing,” he said during a news conference. “That’s what these women and those watching are expecting.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.