NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has decided who will hear the appeal of the Deshaun Watson suspension. It will be heard by Peter C. Harvey.
Harvey is the former Attorney General of New Jersey and has over 30 years of experience as a trial lawyer. He also has ties to the NFL, which makes him an ideal fit to hear this case, from the NFL's standpoint.
Goodell had the power to name his "designee" to hear this appeal and could have tapped himself for the job. However, he has turned to Harvey instead to render what the league says will be the final verdict in the Watson case.
"Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Mr. Harvey's written decision 'will constitute the full, final and complete disposition of the dispute and will be binding upon the player(s), Club(s), and parties' to the CBA," the NFL wrote in a statement.
But who exactly is Peter C. Harvey? Here's what to know about him and how connected he is to the NFL.
Who is Peter C. Harvey?
Harvey is the former Attorney General of New Jersey and current partner at Patterson Belknap. The NFL provided more information about him in a statement.
Mr. Harvey served as the Attorney General of New Jersey and is now a partner at the Patterson Belknap firm in New York. 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.
Harvey was the first African American to serve as the Attorney General of New Jersey; he held office from 2003 to 2006. According to the Patterson Belknap website, Harvey is "a central player in civil and criminal trials, government investigations and consumer fraud matters for many years."
Harvey has ties to the NFL as a member of the league's Diversity Advisory Committee. He serves as a consultant and is part of the league's "effort to improve racial and gender diversity" in hirings at both the team and league level.
As ESPN's Jeff Darlington notes, Harvey has "heard several team-related arbitrations" in the past. As such, he has a strong relationship with the NFL and that is part of why he was chosen for this process.
It is also important to point out Harvey has a strong relationship with the NFL, having heard several team-related arbitrations in past. He serves on NFL's newly formed diversity panel. This isn't intended to be an independent or neutral party. It is purely Goodell's "designee." https://t.co/iC3yOcbQns— Jeff Darlington (@JeffDarlington) August 4, 2022
Additionally, Harvey's ties to the NFL will allow him to rule on this appeal in short order. Why? Because the league knows that he has experience in this area and thus is uniquely qualified to render a verdict swiftly.
Peter C. Harvey's involvement in the Ezekiel Elliott suspension
It's worth noting that Harvey was involved in the NFL's decision to suspend Ezekiel Elliott for six games during the 2017 NFL season. According to a letter announcing the six-game suspension of Elliott, the NFL used Harvey as one of four advisers on the case.
Per the NFL's letter, Harvey's role was "to provide the Commissioner with [his] perspective and expertise on a number of issues, including the assessment of the various evidentiary issues and evaluation of the statements and behavior of the parties involved."
It's unclear whether Harvey provided Goodell with a recommended suspension length for Elliott or just consulted on the case. Either way, it's worth noting that Elliott received a six-game suspension with just two allegations against him; Watson has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct in 24 civil lawsuits, but only five were included in the NFL's case against him.
Additionally, there were no aggravating or mitigating factors in Elliott's case. Judge Sue L. Robinson noted that both were present in Watson's case, so Harvey could have a different interpretation of those factors and how they should influence the length of any suspension.