Editor’s Note: This story contains accounts of sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual abuse, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or at https://www.rainn.org.
Deshaun Watson has been suspended six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, following a ruling by NFL and NFLPA disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson on Monday.
Although the Brown The quarterback will not be allowed to take the field for at least the first six games of the regular season, he still has a chance to start during the preseason.
a source said ProFootballTalkMike Florio this week, the Browns plan to use Watson during the preseason. It’s unclear if the team plans to start him in all three games, but as of now, it’s likely that Watson will take the field on Friday, August 12 against the Jaguars in their first preseason game. If that happens, it will be the first time Watson has played since January 3, 2021.
However, the NFL appealed Robinson’s suspension Wednesday, and the league is seeking an indefinite suspension for the quarterback. If that ends up being the case, then Watson likely wouldn’t be able to play in the preseason as the suspension would begin immediately.
This week’s decision comes after the league’s investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and assault against Watson. More than a dozen women have detailed graphic records of sexual harassment and assault that occurred during massage therapy sessions. Accounts range from Watson allegedly refusing to cover his genitalia to the quarterback ‘touching [a plaintiff] with his penis and trying to force her to give him oral sex.”
Twenty-five women filed civil lawsuits against Watson starting in March 2021, and only one dropped her case over privacy concerns in April ’21. So Watson agreed to settle 20 of the 24 civil lawsuits in June ’22. Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, announced the news, saying the terms and amounts agreed upon are confidential and that they “will not be commenting further on the settlements or these cases.”
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Watson reportedly settled three of the remaining four civil cases against him before Monday’s disciplinary decision.
The quarterback has denied all charges against him, and two Texas grand juries declined to indict him on criminal charges earlier this spring.
Shortly after a Harris County grand jury returned nine counts of “no” on nine criminal complaints against Watson, Cleveland traded the former Texans star, signing him to a five-year, $230 million contract. A clause built into the contract stipulates that Watson will forfeit only $55,556 for each game he is suspended this season.
In addition, Watson is set to forfeit six of his game checks this campaign, totaling about $345,000 of his $1.035 million base salary.
Robinson’s decision included an order that Watson must receive all massage therapy from Browns therapists.
In Robinson’s 16-page report, she distinguished between violent and non-violent behavior, concluding that conclusion that Watson’s conduct “does not fall within the category of violent conduct that would warrant the minimum six-game suspension” that the league had established as “by far the most frequently imposed discipline for domestic violence and sexual acts.”
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