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Deshaun Watson Suspended 11 Games, Fined $5 Million


Deshaun Watson | Image by Getty Images

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The NFL and NFL Player’s Association (NFLPA) have reached a settlement in the disciplinary matter involving Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Watson will be suspended for 11 games without pay after more than two dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions while he was a member of the Houston Texans.

Two Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal complaints filed by 10 women. The quarterback has continuously denied any wrongdoing and maintained that any actions during the massage sessions were consensual.

As part of the settled punishment, Watson will also pay a fine of $5 million and undergo mandatory evaluation by behavioral experts and follow their suggested treatment program.

Watson’s fine will go towards a new fund the NFL has created to support non-profit organizations in the United States “that educate young people on healthy relationships, promote education and prevention of sexual misconduct and assault, support survivors, and related causes,” the NFL said in announcing the settlement.

The NFL and the Browns will also contribute $1 million each to the fund.

“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 in a statement released by the Browns.

“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,” Watson’s statement read.

The suspension will take effect following the final roster cutdown on August 30. Watson would first be eligible to play in Week 13 against his former team in his former stadium when the Browns visit the Houston Texans on December 4.

Watson will be eligible to return to the Browns facility to reacclimate to the team once his suspension crosses the halfway point on October 10. He will be able to resume practicing with the team on November 14.

Watson was initially handed a six-game suspension and no fine for violating the league’s personal conduct policy earlier this month by retired federal judge Sue Robinson, an independent arbiter jointly appointed by the NFL and its players’ union.

Robinson made her ruling after hearing arguments from the league, the players’ union, and Watson’s attorney during a three-day hearing held in Delaware in late June.

The NFL appealed Robinson’s ruling, seeking a harsher penalty. The NFL and NFLPA had engaged in settlement talks before Robinson’s original ruling, and those discussions continued after the league appealed the suspension.

The settlement that has now been reached prevents a potential ruling from former New Jersey attorney general Peter Harvey, whom NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell had appointed to oversee the league’s appeal of Watson’s six-game suspension.

“Deshaun has committed to doing the hard work on himself that is necessary for his return to the NFL,” Commissioner Goodell said in a statement. “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.”

Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam released the following statement:

“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.

“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.”

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3 months ago

This is all eyewash for the masses. The guy was set up. He was only acting on instinct, which is the tribal way.

3 months ago

Got off easy. He’s a POS.

3 months ago

All he got was a slap on the wrist. $5 million is pocket change. If he wasn’t an NFL player he would have gotten several years in prison. I would say that I hope his career is over but if he’s released by Cleveland he’ll be picked up by the Cowboys. The Cowboys tend to hire dregs of society.

James Ivy
James Ivy
3 months ago

And we all thought that NFL players were immune from prosecution for stuff like that.

Chrystal Hays
Chrystal Hays
Reply to  James Ivy
3 months ago

Real change would be hiring masseurs 50% of the time and at random. Putting only female masseuses alone in those rooms isn’t ok. They are probably being hired for their looks as much as their skills.

NFL could install cameras that are monitored by a medical professional or HR member.

Those players are undisciplined and immature in many cases. NFL puts far too much temptation in their way. That’s not exactly fair. Setting them up to fail is not working.

Either recruit men of excellent character to be role models [cue laughtrack] or protect your other employees.

The list of criminals who can play the game is long. Their victims’ names are forgotten.