Deshawn Watson has reached a settlement with the NFL to receive an 11-game suspension and a $5 million fine rather than risk missing his first season as quarterback for the Cleveland Browns following sexual misconduct charges. pay.
Watson was accused of sexually assaulting and harassing 20 women while playing for the Houston Texans. The league had sought to ban him for at least a year for violating his personal conduct policy.
“I am grateful that the disciplinary process has been completed and I am extremely grateful for the tremendous support I received during my short time with the Browns. I would like to once again apologize for all the pain this situation has caused,” Watson said. , in a statement issued through the team, I take responsibility for the decisions I made … stay away from the team.”
The settlement ends months of strife between Watson’s legal team, the NFL and the NFL Players Association.
As part of the settlement, Watson could return to the Browns’ game in Houston on December 4.
On August 1, the three-time Pro Bowler was suspended for six games by former federal judge Sue L. Robinson, who was jointly appointed by the league and union to act as an independent disciplinary officer. .
Robinson found Watson, 26, was in violation of the league’s Personal Conduct Policy after reviewing an investigation into his behavior, calling his behavior “horrible” and “predatory.”
The league appealed the suspension, finding it too light, and remanded Watson’s case back to Goodell. The league had previously called for an indefinite suspension and a hefty fine.
Goodell appointed former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey to the appeals court. Harvey was previously an attorney involved in the NFL’s decision to suspend Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games during the 2017 season for alleged domestic violence.
According to the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement, Harvey’s decision would have constituted “a complete, final and complete disposition of the dispute.”
Goodell said at an owners’ meeting earlier this month that the league’s investigation and Robinson’s findings made it right for the league to seek a one-year suspension.
“She corroborated the evidence,” Goodell said. “There were multiple egregious violations and it was a predatory act.”
In conclusion, Robinson cited Watson’s lack of regret as a factor in her decision. Watson apologized for the first time “to all the women I’ve influenced,” before debuting the Browns at her exhibition in Jacksonville.
Watson was accused of being sexually inappropriate towards a woman during a massage therapy session in Texas from March 2020 to March 2021. In a civil lawsuit filed in Texas, the women accused Watson of exposing herself by touching him with his penis and kissing him against her will. claimed to have been
Two grand juries in Texas have rejected charges against Watson, who denied wrongdoing. He recently settled his 23 out of 24 lawsuits.
For now, the suspension ends months of speculation about whether Watson will play for the Browns in 2022. The Browns have outdone some other teams, trading him three first-round draft picks to the Texans in March, signing the QB to a five-year, $230 million deal. Contract.
Watson’s case has sparked strong opinions while raising questions about the league’s handling of player discipline and its spotty record in supporting women.
The Browns believe Watson can make them a Super Bowl contender. There is a possibility
Pausing also means that Watson is idle longer. One of pro football’s elite QBs, he sat out in Houston last season after asking for a trade and before sexual allegations surfaced.
In her 16-page ruling, Robinson found that the league had proven the fact that Watson had violated three articles of its code of conduct: sexual assault, as defined by the league; Possessing a real danger, weakening or jeopardizing the integrity of the offensive league.
Robinson also pointed to flaws in the league’s course of action, stating, “It would be unfair to specify that an act is prohibited only after it has been committed.
Her punishment was described as “unacceptable, offensive and dangerous, but not surprising.” We have vested interests.”
Tony Busby, an attorney representing all 24 women who have sued Watson, and Ashley Solis, the first woman to go public with the allegations against Watson, said at a press conference in Houston in early August that the first He condemned the six-game suspension.
Watson has been practicing while his case goes through the league’s process.
The Browns’ plan all along was to hand the offense over to veteran Jacoby Brissett during Watson’s suspension. But Cleveland could explore other options at quarterback.