Browns quarterback DeShaun Watson has been suspended six games for sexual misconduct, a long-simmering decision that will no doubt seem far too severe to his defenders and far too lenient to his critics.
The NFL's Disciplinary Officer, retired federal judge Sue Robinson, formally handed down her decision Monday morning after weeks of speculation. She conducted three days of hearings back at the tail end of June. NFL insiders were anticipating a suspension in the 4-8 game range, though the league itself had been agitating for a suspension of at least a year, if not an indefinite one.
Sunday night, the NFL Players' Association (NFLPA) issued a statement saying they would not appeal Robinson's decision due to the thoroughness and fairness of her investigation. Both the NFLPA and the league are permitted to appeal under the NFL's Personal Conduct policy, and the NFL may do so, though the NFLPA has asked them not to.
"Every player, owner, business partner and stakeholder deserves to know that our process is legitimate and will not be tarnished based on the whims of the League office," the NFLPA's statement read.
Our joint statement with Deshaun Watson on the impending arbitration decision: pic.twitter.com/9ObLnHiX6J— NFLPA (@NFLPA) July 31, 2022
In the meantime, Watson has settled three of the remaining four sexual misconduct civil suits against him. Twenty-four massage therapists had alleged that Watson made various sexual advances, (up to and including assault), during massages, conduct that the Browns didn't seem to mind in the slightest as they pursued the elite quarterback and handed him the largest guaranteed contract in the history of the NFL. Watson previously settled 20 of the 24 cases. One remains. All of the women who have accused Watson are represented by Houston attorney Tony Buzbee.
The Browns begin their season against Baker Mayfield and the Carolina Panthers on Sep. 11. Backup Jacoby Brissett will likely be under center as Watson serves his suspension.
Six games, incidentally, is the same suspension that was handed down to Browns' defensive end Myles Garrett after he attacked Mason Rudolph for calling him a racial slur in 2019. The NFL denied that Rudolph uttered such a slur, though failed to present any realistic scenario in which Garrett would have been provoked.
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