The NFL and NFLPA have reached an agreement to suspend Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson for the first eleven weeks of the 2022-2023 regular season and fine him $5M. The suspension and fine are in regard to multiple accusations against Watson when he was with the Houston Texans by female masseuses regarding aggressive sexual advances made by Watson during physical therapy sessions. From the NFL’s statement on the matter:
“Deshaun has committed to doing the hard work on himself that is necessary for his return to the NFL,” Commissioner Roger Goodell stated. “This settlement requires compliance with a professional evaluation and treatment plan, a significant fine, and a more substantial suspension. We are grateful to Judge Robinson and Peter Harvey for their efforts in addressing these matters, which laid the foundation for reaching this conclusion.”
“As we have previously conveyed, Deshaun and his representatives have abided by the NFL and NFLPA structure awaiting a final decision and we have respected the process,” (team owners) Dee and Jimmy Haslam said. “Now that a decision on discipline has been reached, we understand this is a real opportunity to create meaningful change and we are committed to investing in programs in Northeast Ohio that will educate our youth regarding awareness, understanding, and most importantly, prevention of sexual misconduct and the many underlying causes of such behavior. Since Deshaun entered our building, he has been an outstanding member of our organization and shown a true dedication to working on himself both on and off the field. We will continue to support him as he focuses on earning the trust of our community.”
Watson himself has been wildly inconsistent regarding the matter. Today he appeared contrite in the team press release.
“I’m grateful that the disciplinary process has ended and extremely appreciative of the tremendous support I have received throughout my short time with the Browns organization,” Watson said. “I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused. I take accountability for the decisions I made. My focus going forward is on working to become the best version of myself on and off the field and supporting my teammates however possible while I’m away from the team. I’m excited about what the future holds for me in Cleveland.”
However, in a subsequent press conference, Watson continued to profess his innocence. As reported by ESPN:
“I’ll continue to stand on my innocence, just because you know settlements, and things like that happen doesn’t mean that a person is guilty for anything,” he said. “I feel like a person has an opportunity to stand on his innocence and prove that, and we proved that from a legal side, and just going to continue to push forward as an individual and as a person.”
Watson also said he wants to someday tell his side of the story to prove his innocence.
“That’s definitely the plan, that’s definitely the goal,” he said. “I feel like through the whole process I’ve been trying to tell my side of the story. But a lot of people just didn’t pay a lot of attention to it.”
Watson has been accused by multiple women, represented by lawyer Tony Buzbee, in the Houston area of highly improper behavior. As Buzbee noted in March of 2021:
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The matter, with multiple twists and turns including two grand juries declining to press charges against Watson, has been ongoing since. On August 1st, 2022, a disciplinary official agreed upon by the NFL and NFLPA recommended a six-game suspension for Watson. The league, which preferred a year-long suspension, appealed the decision, this resulting in today’s (August 18, 2022) decision.
So, ladies, if you’re wondering what value the NFLPA places on your dignity and right to live in peace from unwanted sexual advances, you now know it’s … eleven weeks. At least the league itself thinks you’re worth a year. As for the Browns, given the mess they’re in, perhaps they should go for the complete cluster and give Colin Kaepernick a tryout.