Berea, Ohio – Deshaan Watson’s six-game suspension was announced a day after the Browns began quarterback — a suspension imposed in response to a lawsuit filed in civil court against two dozen women, all saying Watson was seeking massage therapy. Indulging in sexual misconduct during appointments he scheduled with her—backup QB Jacoby Brissette met with reporters.
Watson was there too. After wrapping up Brown’s morning walk-through on Tuesday, Watson passed the tent where the media had gathered and headed straight into the Cleveland facility, the hood of his neon orange brown sweatshirt pulled over his head. Meanwhile, Brissette headed to the podium.
Watson has yet to speak to reporters during training camp, and is not expected to do so until his suspension status is finalized. The NFL has until Thursday to appeal the six-game suspension imposed by retired Judge Sue L. Robinson. Appeals will lie from the Commissioner himself, Roger Goodell, or any other person he may choose. In Brown’s camp, this meant that on Tuesday almost everyone was asked to talk about the biggest story in football—Watson—except for one person: Watson.
The Browns did not address the media on Monday, the day Robinson’s 16-page report was released. Head coach Kevin Stefanski spoke on Monday but said he had not yet read Robinson’s report. The team’s training camp notes that day did not include the biggest news of the day, Watson’s suspension, but made sure to mention “Brown’s Puppy Pound,” the number of puppies adopted at 16.
As of Tuesday, Stefansky said he had read it, and during a pre-practice press conference he was asked whether what Robinson wrote in his decision gave him pause about his opening QB. ,In his judgment, Robinson wrote That Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy because he “engaged in sexual harassment” and that “his conduct poses a real threat to the safety and well-being of another person.” Robinson also wrote that “Watson’s pattern of conduct is stronger than any reviewed by the NFL.”)
“I will continue to respect Judge Robinson and his decision, and that is my focus,” Stefansky said.
At least Stefansky read the verdict.
Brissette, linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. and QB3 Josh Dobbs all said on Tuesday they had not read the decision. Brissette said she had no plans.
“It’s Deshan’s business,” Brissette told reporters, “and I’d rather stay out of it.”
Dobbs told me face-to-face: “To be honest, right now, camp and a new playbook and a season is coming soon, we have a game coming up next Friday, that’s all my focus at the moment.”
Walker Jr. made a similar line to Brissette when I asked him at his press conference why he had not read the judgment, or any other coverage of the lawsuits against Watson.
“It’s not my business,” he said. “I think it’s stuff for Deshaun to take care of and let the process take care of itself, and I didn’t want to put myself in that position. It’s football for us here and he handles it the way he does.” That’s the way they need to handle it.”
But isn’t the franchise quarterback’s business your business, too? I asked
“That’s a good question,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that. I would say, in the end, we are all part of this organization, part of this team and we all have to do one thing and it’s not everyone’s job to worry about someone else’s job. We have our job to do, if that makes sense.”
Neither Brissette, Dobbs, Stefansky nor center Nick Harris would give any details on Tuesday about whether Watson had addressed the team about Robinson’s decision and his suspension.
Dobbs: “No, most of that stuff we like to keep in the house. We keep all that stuff in the house depending on the circumstances.”
Brissette: “Whatever happens inside that building I’ll keep in that building.”
Stefansky: “I’m going to let Deshon speak for himself when it comes to that. Short of that, I don’t have much to add.”
At the end of Tuesday’s practice, Watson walked to the edge of the field and knelt down to sign autographs for a long line of smiling children. they spent almost 10 Minutes to put on your number 4 football and towels and be photographed with the kids.
“Deshaun, you are a goat!” Someone shouted standing.
“That’s a good boy!”
“MVP! We’re ready for you!”
But at least one fan of Brown watched with mixed feelings as fans around him cheered and parents rushed to push their kids to the line in front of the quarterback.
“I was feeling apprehensive,” said Tina Colontone. “It is part of the experience of people taking autographs. if my daughter was here i would let her go if she wanted, but we have [Browns players] Autograph, I ain’t trying to put that on my wall, you know what I mean? I would not. Personally, I wouldn’t. ,
Colontone said she read the decision as it came Monday, and she is upset by the allegations against Watson because Brown traded her for him in March.
“Didn’t he say that he felt he lacked remorse?” Colonton said. “It’s hard to sit here and celebrate someone who lacks remorse. I say sorry for just bumping into people, so if you’re in the public eye, you have to show kindness and consideration.
Colonton was in the minority of Brown’s fans I spoke to on Tuesday. Four other fans I spoke to told me they were happy that Watson was on their team.
“Whether it’s guilty or innocent, I really don’t give a fuck,” Jim Cecil said. “I’m a fan of the Browns, I just want to win.”
Jim’s wife, Jennifer Cecil, said, “And he doesn’t sound like a guy.” “Seeing him at training camp over the past few days, we’ve been seeing it on the news, and seeing him sign his shoes and give away his shoes. He seems like such a nice guy.”
Watson continued to get most of the first-team reps on Tuesday, and Brissette worked mostly with the couplets. Stefansky said on Monday that he had drawn up several training plans based on the duration of Watson’s suspension, but did not elaborate on what those plans were. Neither did Brissette.
At the end of practice, Watson worked with a strength coach on footwork exercises on an agility ladder. He was then joined by other quarterbacks, who remained on the field after practice and did some extra work with the receivers.
On the field, Watson is outspoken and engaged with his teammates. In his introductory press conference in March, Watson said he would be available to anyone in the organization. “I want people to come up to me and have an open dialogue and show the person I really am,” he said.
I wondered on Tuesday if any Browns players had told him about this and wanted him to answer questions about the allegations against him. Do any of them care enough? Have any of them read enough to ask about it? But, this being the NFL, how many of them are actually so secure in their jobs that they want to do it even if they want to? Dobbs declined to say whether he would have any such talks with Watson.
“His leadership really stood up for itself,” Dobbs told me. “… he’s been a great partner ever since he got here, and that’s really what matters to us.”
Brissette: “He’s been a good friend, a good partner, and a good player.”
On Wednesday, I spoke to Brown’s guard Joel Bittonio and asked if he was deliberately evading Robinson’s decision so that he could continue his job. He said no. Instead, he attributed it to something more common—the permanent player turnover that is the seasonal grind of working in the NFL.
“No, I don’t think so. I—you know—again, he’s done his research or he’s looked into the matter. Like you said, I’ve played with a lot of quarterbacks here and a lot of people who play in the NFL. I have a job, I go out there and I block and I play football, and I have maybe 20 quarterbacks,” Bittonio said.
“So it’s, like, you know people on and off the field and they’re just different people. But there’s no motive. Me and Deshaun have been good and since he got here, there’s no one, this It’s been a good relationship.”
Watson’s six-game suspension affects every player on the Browns roster and every staff member in the building. But for Brown, the reason for that suspension, at least publicly, is sticking to the line. I don’t mean, This Is But it looks like the Browns’ players and their head coach have decided that objective ignorance is probably best and is probably the only way for them to continue.