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Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was suspended for six video games Monday for violating the NFL’s private conduct coverage following allegations of sexual misconduct by two dozen girls in Texas, two individuals acquainted with the choice mentioned.
The individuals spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of the choice had not been made public. Watson, who performed 4 seasons with Houston earlier than being traded to Cleveland in March, not too long ago settled 23 of 24 lawsuits filed by girls alleging sexual harassment and assault throughout therapeutic massage remedy visits in 2020 and 2021.
NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson has three days to enchantment the choice. The NFL Gamers Affiliation has already mentioned it would abide by her determination. If either side enchantment, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or somebody he designates will make the choice in accordance with the phrases of the collective bargaining settlement. The union can then attempt to problem that call in federal court docket.
The league requested Watson, 26, for an indefinite suspension of no less than one yr and a superb of no less than $5 million throughout a three-day listening to earlier than Robinson in June.
Watson can proceed to follow and play in exhibition video games earlier than the suspension begins within the first week of the common season. He can be eligible to return when the Browns play at Baltimore on Oct. 23.
After studying that the choice was imminent, the NFL Gamers Affiliation launched a joint assertion with Watson on Sunday night time, saying it might not enchantment Robinson’s determination and urging the league to observe swimsuit.
“Each participant, proprietor, enterprise accomplice and shareholder deserves to know that our course of is professional and won’t be tainted primarily based on the whims of the league workplace,” the union mentioned in an announcement.
Whereas he awaits a call, Watson is in coaching camp with the Browns. He continues to get many of the reps with the first-team offense, which can be sidelined to backup Jacoby Brissett.
Whereas the NFL imposed a stiff penalty, the union argued that Watson shouldn’t be punished in any respect as a result of he had not been convicted of any crime.
Two grand juries in Texas declined to indict Watson on felony complaints introduced by 10 girls.
It was the primary case for Robinson, a former U.S. district choose who was collectively appointed by the NFL and the crew to deal with participant misconduct _ a task beforehand held by Goodell.
A 3-time Professional Bowl decide with the Texans, Watson’s taking part in profession has been stalled by allegations that he misbehaved with girls throughout scheduled therapeutic massage remedy classes through social media. He sat out the 2021 season.
Of their lawsuits, the ladies accused Watson of exposing himself, touching them with their penises or kissing them in opposition to their will. A girl alleged that Watson compelled her to carry out oral intercourse.
Watson has denied all wrongdoing, together with any consensual intercourse with the three girls. He publicly said his purpose was to clear his identify earlier than agreeing to a confidential monetary settlement with the 20 girls on June 21.
Watson’s high-profile case has drawn scrutiny over the league’s dealing with of participant misconduct, together with assist for ladies, and has raised questions on whether or not the Browns will ever discover a franchise quarterback.
Because the commerce, Watson has been on public show, with followers questioning whether or not the league had the correct to ban him from taking part in regardless of no felony expenses.
The league has been delicate to Watson and appropriately disciplined Watson after criticism of earlier sexual misconduct instances involving Baltimore operating again Ray Rice, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Cleveland operating again Kareem Hunt.
For his or her half, the Browns had been broadly criticized for signing Watson. The crew has been determined to discover a long-term reply at quarterback — they’ve had a league-high 32 starters since 1999 — and lots of questioned why the crew would take a participant with a lot baggage.
Throughout his introductory information convention after the commerce in Cleveland, Watson was adamant about his innocence.
”I’ve by no means abused, disrespected or harassed any lady in my life,” he mentioned on the podium, the place he was joined by Browns normal supervisor Andrew Berry and coach Kevin Stefanski. “I used to be introduced up in a different way. It is not my DNA. That is not my tradition. Not me as that particular person.
He repeated these feedback through the Browns’ minicamp three months later, saying his solely purpose was to clear his identify. Nonetheless, per week later he settled 20 civil instances. Any remaining instances might nonetheless go to trial, however not till 2023 after either side agreed to attend till the upcoming season.
On July 15, 30 girls settled lawsuits in opposition to the Texans after claiming the crew ignored and enabled Watson to harass and assault them throughout remedy classes. The phrases of the settlement had been saved confidential.
Regardless of Watson’s authorized entanglements, the Browns _along with a number of different teams_ pursued Watson when the primary grand jury declined to indict him.
At first, Watson refused the Browns. However Cleveland house owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam enticed him with a five-year, absolutely assured, $230 million contract.
Watson had different affords however selected the Browns and waived his no-trade clause to affix the crew after a disappointing 8-9 season. Cleveland accomplished the deal on March 18 by agreeing to ship three first-round draft picks and 6 complete picks to Houston for Watson.
Haslams mentioned that when he traveled to Houston with Berry and Stefanski and frolicked speaking with Watson, any considerations he had about his character or conduct had been dispelled.
An All-American at Clemson, Watson was drafted by the Texans with the No. 12 decide in 2017. He began six video games in his second yr earlier than passing for 4,165 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Watson has developed into the league’s elite QB in 2020, throwing for 4,823 yards and 33 TDs regardless of taking part in simply 4-12 on a Texans crew.