Deshawn Watson suspended: NFL suspends Cleveland Browns QB for six games: AP source

Cleveland — Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshawn Watson was suspended for six games Monday for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy after being accused of sexual misconduct by 24 women in Texas. .

The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been made public. Watson, who was traded to Cleveland in March after playing four seasons in Houston, recently settled 23 of 24 lawsuits filed by massage therapists alleging sexual harassment and assault during appointments in 2020 and 2021. .

After learning the sentencing was imminent, the NFL Players Association issued a joint statement with Watson on Sunday night, saying it would not appeal disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson’s sentencing and urging the league to follow suit. did.

“All players, owners, business partners and stakeholders deserve to know that our process is legal and cannot be harmed based on the whims of league officials.

If either side appeals, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or someone he designates will make a decision pursuant to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.The union can then challenge the ruling in federal court.

While awaiting sentencing, Watson was at training camp with the Browns. He continues to take most of the rep on the top team offense and will be handed over to back up Jacoby Brissett while he’s off the sidelines.

The league demanded at least a one-year indefinite suspension and a $5 million fine for the 26-year-old Watson during a three-day hearing before Robinson in June. The NFL Players Association argued that Watson was not convicted of any crime, so he should not be punished.

Two grand juries in Texas have refused to indict Watson on criminal charges filed by 10 women.

This was the first case for Robinson, a former U.S. District Judge jointly appointed by the NFL and unions to handle player misconduct, previously served by Goodell.

Watson, a three-time Pro Bowler with the Texans, has had his playing career end due to allegations via social media that he behaved inappropriately towards a woman during a scheduled massage therapy session. I’ve seen it stagnate. He missed the 2021 season.

In the lawsuit, the women accused Watson of exposing themselves by touching them with the penis and kissing them against their will.

Watson denied all wrongdoing and claimed that his sexual acts with the three women were consensual. He publicly claimed his goal was to clear his name before agreeing to a secret financial settlement with 20 women on June 21.

Watson’s high-profile case brought renewed scrutiny to the league’s response to player misconduct and support for women, leaving the Browns wondering if they could find a quarterback for the franchise.

Since the trade, Watson has been in the public eye, and fans are wondering if the league has the authority to ban him from playing despite not facing criminal charges.

The league, after being criticized for its handling of past sexual harassment cases involving Baltimore’s Ray Rice, Pittsburgh’s quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, and Cleveland’s Kareem Hunt, has been sensitive to its image and has given Watson an appropriate I have given you discipline.

The Browns were widely criticized for signing Watson. The team was desperate to find a long-term answer in quarterbacks, and since 1999 they’ve had a league-best 32 starters.

At a press conference after being traded to Cleveland, Watson was adamant about his innocence.

“I’ve never assaulted, disrespected, or harassed a woman in my entire life,” she said. “I was raised differently. It’s not in my DNA. It’s in my culture.” No, it’s not who I am.”

He repeated these comments three months later during the Browns’ minicamp, claiming his only goal was to clear his name. But a week later, he settled 20 of his civil lawsuits. The remaining lawsuits may still go to trial, but not until 2023, after both parties have agreed to wait until the end of the next season.

On July 15, 30 women settled a lawsuit against a Texan after alleging that the team ignored and enabled Watson because he harassed and assaulted him during a therapy session. . The terms of the settlement were kept confidential.

Despite Watson’s legal entanglement, the Browns, along with several other teams, pursued Watson after an initial grand jury declined to indict him.

Initially, Watson turned down the Browns. But Cleveland owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam lured him in with a fully-guaranteed five-year, $230 million deal.

Watson had other offers, but chose the Browns, waiving the no-trade clause and joining the team after a disappointing 8-9 season. Cleveland completed the deal on March 18, agreeing to send three first-round draft picks and six Watson draft picks to Houston.

The Haslams said any concerns they had about his character and behavior were alleviated when they flew to Houston with Berry and Stefanski to speak with Watson.

An All-American player at Clemson University, Watson was drafted by the Texans in 2017 with the 12th overall pick. In his second year after starting six of his games as a rookie, he passed for 4,165 yards and he scored 26 touchdowns.

Watson has developed into one of the league’s elite QBs, throwing for 4,823 yards and 33 TDs in 2020 despite playing for a 4-12 Texans team.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Deshawn Watson suspended: NFL suspends Cleveland Browns QB for six games: AP source

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