What does Antonio Brown’s settlement mean for Deshaun Watson?

About twenty months ago, when Britney Taylor filed a federal civil lawsuit against Antonio Brown, the first questions that went beyond guilt or innocence were typical of “what-does-that-mean?” From the NFL. maths.

Something like:

What happens if there is no solution?

Will Commissioner Roger Goodell suspend Brown?

Will Taylor talk to the league’s investigators?

And finally, the bottom line that some NFL teams really wanted to know:

How long will this last over Brown’s career?

The answers all came in time and can provide an instructive background for the future of Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is the target of 22 civil lawsuits claiming a series of sexual offenses. Watson has the Texans and other teams resolve the same questions about his pending dispute. It is an opaque crossroads that has no perceptible end in sight, except for the extensive mediation of settlement (which remains an option) or a kind of unparalleled rapid follow-up of 22 individual trials impossible).

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 7: Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown (81) enters the stadium and shows fans a weak gesture during the LV Super Bowl between the Kansas City and Tampa Bay Buccaneers bosses on February 7, 2021, at the Stadium Raymond James of Tampa, FL.  (Photo by Cliff Welch / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Antonio Brown, photographed a few hours before the LV Super Bowl, reached an agreement with a former coach who accused him of sexual assault in a trial. (Photo by Cliff Welch / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Antonio Brown’s early fighting position reflected that of Deshaun Watson

While Watson and Brown’s situations are different, what is important to note now is that their civil litigation began in a remarkably similar place: each player denying the allegations against them and both of their representations appearing as players painting the image of a woman ( or more women) inventing civil litigation to extract a solution. And in both situations, the players denied the claims against them and insisted that there would be no solution.

For Brown, this solution finally materialized, but only after almost 20 months of legal struggles and close to the threshold of a jury trial that was expected to take place in the next few months.

For Watson, his legal representation says what Brown’s lawyer said in the fall of 2019: there will be no agreements and the player intends to fight the accusations in court to claim his reputation.

The desire to fight at the beginning of civil litigation is the position that will ultimately set the stage for Watson’s future. Brown initially discussed an agreement with Taylor, his former coach, in the summer of 2019. Those discussions broke down and he moved to the next legal stage of a civil lawsuit, which is a path that lawyers often use to create additional pressures for a solution. resolution. In Brown’s case, he eventually settled despite his fight against the lawsuit, although it is unclear whether his undisclosed resolution was more or less costly than it could have been in the summer of 2019. money that Brown lost in notices and a significant impact on his NFL earnings (losses that are still being made), it is likely that the financial tax far exceeded any settlement was originally discussed with Taylor nearly two years ago .

Is it better to settle down or go to court?

In terms of representation, it’s part of the cool legal math and computers that come into play when someone like Brown or Watson faces civil litigation. There is consideration to be given to the monetary cost of fighting charges in court. There is also the consideration of not the fight against accusations and what that will mean for a player’s reputation if they are established rather than seeking full justification in the court system. Simply put: Is it more sensible to mediate a solution than to involve the financial implications of an extracted legal battle?

At this point, Watson’s position was unequivocally highlighted by his lawyer, Rusty Hardin. Not only did Watson declare his innocence through his lawyer, but his office strongly stated the position that all 22 women who filed civil cases were lying. This is a position that suggests (and even requires in Hardin’s most recent legal case) that Watson seeks to have his day in court and before a jury.

Brown took that lead too. And 20 months later, it ended with a settlement before its jury trial took place.

Watson’s civil war fights could last for years

For all the NFL and Watson teams, the implications are clear. This will be a long way ahead. Probably many years, depending on the number of civil cases that continue. It also means that Watson could fight this right to the threshold of a jury trial and then decide that a solution is a more pleasant option. Or it could be subject to jury trials, one after the other, if the multitude of civil cases never come together as a process of collective action that is not planned at this time.

With the exception of some sort of unforeseen event that will result in the dismissal of all cases in the coming months, Watson is much more likely to continue his NFL career in civil litigation. That’s exactly what Brown did in 2020, playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while his legal representation quarreled with Taylor’s lawyers and went to trial. It’s worth studying how everything was played for Brown, because there are some of the same obstacles that Watson faces. And it begins with an examination of the full picture of Brown’s chronology, as it expanded from Taylor’s trial, which claimed that the extension sexually assaulted her.

Taylor filed a lawsuit in September 2019. This was the first event that set the stage for Brown’s eventual release from the New England Patriots later that month. From there, Brown fell into limbo inside the NFL, remaining in free agency while under investigation by the league. Some of this language was created by the league itself, which seemed to suggest that if Brown had signed for a team for the rest of the 2019 season, he would have been included on the commissioner’s exempt list – which is practically a paid suspension – while league investigators completed their survey. The NFL investigation eventually lasted 10 months and culminated in an eight-game suspension for undisclosed violations of personal conduct policy.

Brown spent essentially the entire 2019 football season and was then suspended for half a season in 2020, all of which took place while he continued to fight Taylor’s civil lawsuit.

The players’ situations are not the same, but some of the complications could be for Watson. First, there is the lingering cloud of civil litigation that hangs overhead and is likely to continue to produce consistent headlines. Second, there will be the discovery process and then the public jury trials that will further expose Watson to control of the press and the law. All of this will have an impact on how NFL teams and supporters view it financially. And finally, there will be the opaque investigation process of the league, which is completely open in terms of chronology.

These similarities answer some of the questions about Watson that reflect what was asked about Brown. If there is no solution, it will extend in a long legal process. At that time, Goodell could suspend Watson, as he did with Brown, for a period of civil proceedings. And at any given time, one or a lot of women who have filed charges against Watson could talk to NFL investigators, as Taylor did during the league’s investigation into Brown.

This brings all this back to the question that the teams have chewed and will continue to digest every day with Deshaun Watson: regardless of his guilt or innocence, unless a legal resolution is reached in the next few months for Watson, this Legal thing the process will hang over his career for years. And, like Brown, there will always be an open possibility that he will get right to where he originally started – with the defender paying years of legal bills and incurring unspeakable costs for his earnings, only to sign an agreement his lawyers said that it is not about to happen.

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