Deshan Watson Suspended Six Games By NFL

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshan Watson, accused by more than two dozen women of sexual misconduct during massage treatments, was suspended for six games Monday for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, according to a person with knowledge of the proceedings. The fine was not imposed. Not authorized to speak in public.

The NFL and the NFL Players Association did not immediately return calls for comment.

The decision was made by Sue L. Robinson, a retired federal judge jointly appointed by the NFL and the players union to oversee player discipline. The league and player union have three business days to submit a written appeal, which will be handled by Commissioner Roger Goodell or a person of his choice. The players’ union said in a statement Sunday night — before Robinson had informed both sides of its decision — that it would not appeal and asked the NFL to give the ruling stand.

By the time Watson is eligible to return from suspension, it will have been almost 22 months since he last played in an NFL game.

The decision comes after a 15-month investigation into allegations that Watson, who was then quarterback for the Houston Texans, engaged in sexual harassment and lewd behavior toward women whom he massaged from the fall of 2019 to March 2021. was hired for. Twenty-four women filed civil lawsuits against Watson and 20 lawsuits were settled in June. ESPN reported Sunday that Watson has also settled with three of the remaining four women. Watson denied the claims, and grand juries in two Texas counties declined to criminally charge Watson.

Conduct prohibited by the League’s Personal Conduct Policy includes sexual offenses, acts that endanger the safety and welfare of another person and anything that undermines the integrity of the League.

The Browns made a significant investment in Watson, trading top draft picks to receive his services and then signing him to a five-year, $230 million fully guaranteed contract to be their franchise quarterback. An elite talent, Watson requested a trade from the Texans after the 2020 season when Houston struggled for a 4-12 record.

He was traded to the Browns in March after the first Texas grand jury refused to criminally charge him for three first-round picks and three additional picks in the NFL Draft. A second grand jury also opted not to charge Watson.

The league and Watson’s representatives could not negotiate discipline by mutual consent, the initial decision being in Robinson’s hands. It oversaw a three-day hearing in late June, during which the NFL recommended that Watson be suspended indefinitely and wait at least a full season to reapply, while the union and Watson’s representatives argued against the lengthy ban.

It was the NFL’s first individual conduct case to be heard by a disciplinary officer instead of Goodell, a protocol established in the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement. Prior to Robinson’s decision, the union called the new process fair and valid, while appealing to the NFL not to ask Goodell or his nominee to override its decision on appeal.

The decision on Watson’s discipline was widely anticipated, not only as a result of Brown’s investment, but the breadth of allegations against Watson set it apart from any other personal conduct case that has been considered by the league. The decision comes as an investigation into the NFL’s treatment of women, including a congressional investigation into the workplace treatment of female employees in Washington commanders and attorney general’s warning in six states, including New York, that they will investigate the league unless Don’t address it. Allegations of workplace harassment of women and minorities.

The NFL began its investigation into Watson in March 2021, after the first accusers’ lawsuits were filed. League investigators, who do not have subpoena powers, met with 10 women who filed suit against Watson, contemporary witnesses to verify their accounts and other women who have worked with Watson.

Brown anticipates suspending Watson for at least part of the 2022 season and has structured his contract accordingly, loading most of his $46 million compensation for the year into a signing bonus. He would lose only a portion of his basic salary of about $1 million.

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