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NFL NOTEBOOK: No timeline on Deshaun Watson punishment rulings – Toronto Sun

Commish says league investigators still trying to determine whether Browns QB violated NFL personal conduct policy

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (centre)talk with the media during a news conference.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (centre)talk with the media during a news conference. USA Today Sports

Don’t hold your breath waiting for the NFL to determine whether to suspend Deshaun Watson.

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Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday there is no timetable on when the league might conclude its investigation of the embattled Cleveland Browns quarterback — nor when it might determine if punishment of the 26-year-old is warranted, nor what that punishment might be.

“Obviously these are serious charges, so we’re looking at it seriously,” Goodell told a news conference Tuesday afternoon, after the NFL’s annual meeting concluded a day early in Palm Beach, Fla.

Twenty-two female athletic and massage therapists came forward last spring to purport sexual misconduct on Watson’s part. He has been criminally cleared, but still faces 22 civil lawsuits filed by those women in Houston.

“The (NFL’s) personal conduct policy is something that’s very important to us,” Goodell said. “There are still civil charges (pending) so our investigation, hopefully, will have access to more information. And that will be helpful, obviously, getting to the conclusion of, what are the facts? And, was there a violation of the personal conduct policy?

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“But that determination will be made by a joint disciplinary officer … established by the NFLPA and the NFL (who) will make the decision when the facts are all in. And we’ll see. There’s no timetable on that.”

Whether Watson is summoned to NFL offices in New York for questioning “is something that’s up to (league) investigators,” Goodell said.

“They are the ones that have met with some of the people that have information that we want to know. We will seek to speak to everybody who can give us some perspective, and try to get to the bottom line, and get to facts.”

Goodell underscored that the league’s personal conduct policy does not require criminal charges for a violation of it to have occurred, and for the violator to be punished.

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The commissioner added that with Watson criminally cleared, the likelihood of him being essentially suspended with pay — that is, being parked on the commissioner’s exempt list while still collecting paycheques — is now less likely.

“I think at this point, the civil (legal matter) in and of itself would not do that. If there’s a violation of the personal conduct policy, that may trigger something. But that would more likely trigger some type of discipline.”

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OTHER NEW RULE

One other new rule passed — beyond the overtime change, of only three changes proposed — makes permanent last year’s formational experiment that saw the success of onside kicks jump back to its historical rate of about 13.5%.

The one by-law proposal was approved by owners, which allows a team after the season to deny until after the draft any interview requests of player-personnel employees below the GM level.

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DALTON IN, HILL OUT

Two substantial pieces of quarterback news regarding the New Orleans Saints broke by midday Tuesday.

First, new head coach Dennis Allen told reporters at the annual meeting that gadget QB Taysom Hill will play primarily at tight end this year, not quarterback.

Secondly, the Saints have agreed to terms with 12th-year free-agent veteran Andy Dalton, who will battle Jameis Winston for the starting job once the latter returns to full form by some point this summer or fall, following surgery late last fall on a torn ACL.

ESPN says it’s a one-year deal for the 34-year-old Dalton, with $3-million guaranteed.

HARBAUGH EXTENDED

Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti extended the contract of head coach John Harbaugh through 2025, he announced.

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The 59-year-old is entering his 15th season as Baltimore’s on-field leader. He is 137-88 (.609) in the regular season and 11-8 (.579) in the playoffs, including a Super Bowl championship in 2012.

MORE NEW STADIUMS?!

Few things on earth this century are as reliably, dependably relentless as the NFL new-stadium-building machine.

Plans finally in place to build a new stadium or two? Good! On to the next!

SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles and Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas both opened in 2020. On Monday an agreement in principle was reached to build the Bills a new stadium in suburban Buffalo.

Within 24 hours came word at the annual meeting that both the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans are now talking out loud about getting a new stadium of their own.

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Tennessee’s governor apparently is offering $500 million in public money to replace Nashville’s Nissan Stadium, which turns only 23 years old come August.

As for K.C., tweeted Kevin Clark of The Ringer on Tuesday: “Chiefs prez Mark Donovan, when asked this AM about potential new stadium options, said the team has considered options in state of Kansas. They like (50-year-old) Arrowhead (and the) legacy of (founding Chiefs owner) Lamar Hunt’s stadium, but have been pitched by Kansas developers on a bunch of options. Something to watch.”

Count on it.

A third team, the Chicago Bears, is looking at buying property for a potential new stadium, although as Goodell said “they’re a long ways” from engaging seriously in efforts to commit to a process of building a new stadium.

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Added Goodell: “I think it’s important that teams look at these issues … What’s best for their fans?”

KRAFT JEEEZ

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft isn’t spoiled much, eh?

On Tuesday morning in Palm Beach, he told reporters: “It bothers me that we haven’t been able to win a playoff game in the last three years.”

This, after having won three Super Bowls in the five seasons before that.

Kraft added that to win, a team needs a good head coach and a good quarterback, and in Bill Belichick and second-year Mac Jones he said, “I believe we have both.”

PACK OF SIGHS

Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur said of Aaron Rodgers: “We’re going to continue to add talent around him.”

Continue?! That cackling you just heard was Rodgers.

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LaFleur did admit his team needs a new No. 1 wide receiver who “can take the top off” of defensive coverage, after the club traded disgruntled Davante Adams — and for years Rodgers’ favourite pass target — to Las Vegas.

HURTS SO GOOD

Philadelphia head coach Nick Sirianni, on third-year QB Jalen Hurts:

“I go back to the type of guys that maximize their football potential. What are the common denominators with those guys? They have high character, they have football IQ, they love football, they’re tough and they’re competitive. Jalen is all those things.”

EXTRA POINTS

Los Angeles Rams defensive-tackle superstar Aaron Donald is not retiring, head coach Sean McVay said … It appears the Detroit Lions have stuck a for-sale sign on their No. 2-overall draft pick. Don’t be surprised if they trade down by, or on, the first night of the draft, April 28 … Former New York Giants safety Jabrill Peppers agreed on a one-year deal with New England … Free-agent QB Cam Newton claims he’s drawing interest from some clubs. As what? … Carolina head coach Matt Rhule said his team isn’t necessarily locked in to draft a QB at No. 6 overall … Tampa Bay GM Jason Licht waffled when asked if the team will re-sign DT Ndamukong Suh … Carolina will hold joint practices with New England this August … In another diversity initiative in the football ranks, the NFL mandated that all 32 clubs must hire a female or ethnic or racial minority to serve this season as an offensive assistant coach … Giants head coach Brian Daboll all but confirmed the idea is for Daniel Jones to start at quarterback, and Tyrod Taylor to back him up … Cleveland agreed to terms with ex-Seattle centre Ethan Pocic … Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said “we have to fix” newly acquired QB Drew Lock’s mentality and penchant for committing too many turnovers.

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