On Thursday, attorney Tony Buzbee convened a press conference for the purposes of, among other things, criticizing the NFL for the process that resulted in a six-game suspension being imposed on Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Buzbee called the league’s efforts a “juggled mess,” arguing that it was “so inconsistent in the past that it’s hard to take it seriously.”
His comments during a press conference that lasted under 30 minutes included a claim that the procedure was “sketchy and sad,” with the massage therapists interviewed by the NFL being asked questions like, “‘What were you wearing?'” Said Buzbee, ” That gave us a lot of pause.”
Buzbee alleged that the questioning focused on a “deep dive on the victim and little to no questions about the conduct being alleged,” and that the investigators were “not interested in what happened.”
“Many left the interviews feeling that they had not been heard,” Buzbee said.
One of Buzbee’s clients told him that the interviews “felt more like an interrogation, asking me the same questions over and over, hoping that I would fumble the story about what I experienced so they could claim what I was saying was untrue.”
He said that he made 10 of his clients available to be questioned by the league, and that he would have produced more of them to be interviewed, if the NFL had wanted to talk to them. He said that he offered to submit sworn statements from all of his clients regarding their interactions with Watson, but that the NFL declined.
Buzbee said that, at the three-day hearing conducted by Judge Robinson, none of the plaintiffs were invited to testify.
His very strong opinions regarding the situation miss one very important point. The NFL’s process resulted in a finding that Watson violated the Personal Conduct Policy by committing “non-violent sexual assault” with four massage therapists, violating the policy in three different ways. Judge Sue L. Robinson also found that Watson’s testimony — a “categorical denial” — was not truthful, and that he lacked remorse.
While Buzbee may disagree with the six-game suspension, he should welcome the factual findings. They give the league exactly what it needs to impose a much greater suspension on appeal. Thus, Buzbee shouldn’t complain just yet about what the NFL does with the appeal. There’s a very good chance that he’ll be very happy with the final result of the league’s full and complete procedures.