Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson Suspended 6 Games For Violating NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy

Cleveland Browns Quarterback Deshaun Watson Disciplinary Officer Sue L. Robinson ruled Monday that he will serve a six-game suspension without pay but will not be fined for violating the league’s personal conduct policy following sexual misconduct allegations.

Robinson’s Comprehensive 15-page conclusion said that although Watson violated the personal conduct policy, there was insufficient evidence to justify an indefinite suspension.

In his report, Robinson wrote that “the NFL bears its burden to prove, by the primacy of the evidence, that Mr. Watson was involved in sexual assault (as defined by the NFL) against the four physicians identified in the report. Mr. Watson in this regard.” I violated the policy.”

The ruling relied on 32 previous suspensions under the league’s personal conduct policy since 2015. In those 21 cases, the league suspended the player for six games, including the cases of Darius Guice and Johnny Manziel. Greg Hardy has been suspended for four matches.

The biggest suspension – 10 games for Jaron Jones in 2021 – included a criminal plea and multiple incidents of domestic violence. The two eight-game suspensions – of Karim Hunt in 2019 and Mark Walton in 2020 – also took several incidents of domestic violence into account.

Robinson ruled that Watson “is to confine his massage therapy to club-guided sessions and club-approved massage therapists for the duration of his career, and therefore to apply this mandate as a condition for his reinstatement.” “

It also ruled that Watson “has no adverse involvement with law enforcement, and must not commit any additional violations of policy.”

Watson deserves a return for the Browns’ October 23 game in Baltimore.

The NFL Players Association made it clear in a statement Sunday night that it “will stand” by Robinson’s decision and urged the NFL to do the same.

The NFL issued a statement Monday saying it would determine whether to appeal.

“We thank Independent Disciplinary Officer Judge Sue L. Robinson for the heavy record and attention review during the three-day hearing that resulted in her finding of multiple violations of NFL Personal Conduct Policy by Deshan Watson. We applaud Judge Robinson. Do diligence and professionalism throughout this process,” the statement read.

“Per the collective bargaining agreement, the NFL or the NFLPA may appeal the decision on Watson’s behalf within three days. In the light of his findings, the league is reviewing the enforcement of Judge Robinson’s six-game suspension and considering the matter.” A determination will take. Next steps.”

Sources close to Watson say they believe six games is too much, but they respect the decision, sources told ESPN’s Diana Rossini.

Both the parties will have three days to file an appeal in writing. In that case, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or his nominee “will issue a written decision that constitutes a full, final and complete settlement of the dispute,” in accordance with the terms of Article 46 in the league’s collective bargaining agreement.

Watson has been accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct during a massage session in civil lawsuits filed by 25 women. The alleged encounter in the lawsuit took place between March 2020 and March 2021, while Watson was a member of the Houston Texans. One of 25 lawsuits was dropped in April 2021 after a judge ruled that plaintiffs were required to amend their petitions to disclose their names. In June, Watson settled 20 of the 24 lawsuits he was facing; On Monday, he agreed to settle three of the remaining four, according to Houston attorney Tony Buzby, who represents the women suing Watson.

Buzby told ESPN’s John Barr that Ashley Solis, the first woman to sue Watson and the first to go public with her name and story, settled her case.

Last month, Texans reached a settlement with 30 women who had claimed or were prepared to make claims against the organization for their alleged role in connection with the allegations against Watson.

Robinson heard arguments from lawyers for the league, union and Watson during a three-day hearing held in his home state of Delaware in late June. The NFL was pushing for a suspension of at least one year, while the players’ union and Watson’s lawyer argued that the quarterback should not be suspended at all. The parties discussed a possible solution during the hearing, but they could not agree to a settlement.

Sources told ESPN’s Dan Graziano that in the days following Robinson’s decision, the league and Watson’s side engaged in further settlement talks, but neither side ever felt they were close to a deal. According to sources, Watson’s side indicated that it was willing to offer a suspension in the range of six to eight games. Sources said the league indicated it was ready to offer a 12-game suspension and a significant fine – $8 million.

If his suspension is upheld, Watson will still be able to attend practice and games during the preseason. According to the CBA, he will be allowed to return to the Browns to practice during the second part of the suspension, in Week 4. But he will not be allowed to be with the team during the first half of the suspension.

Since no additional penalty was imposed, Watson is expected to miss six of his $57,500 game checks in 2022 for a loss of $345,000 from his $1.035 million basic salary. Watson’s Brown contract will guarantee him a league-high $230 million, with a base salary increasing to $46 million in 2023 and a signing bonus of $44.965 million.

Although two grand juries in Texas declined to pursue criminal charges against Watson earlier this year, the NFL is investigating whether he violated its personal conduct policy since 2021. The NFL interviewed Watson several days earlier this summer. League investigators also spoke to several women.

Watson has consistently denied all wrongdoing and said that he has no remorse for any of his actions during the massage session. Watson also said that he cooperated with the NFL’s investigation and “truly answered every question” asked by the league’s investigators.

Brown was traded for Watson in March, sending the Texans three first-round draft picks. Cleveland then offered Watson a new five-year contract worth $230 million, fully guaranteed, the richest deal in NFL history for any player.

Browns coach Kevin Stefansky said at the start of training camp last week that Jacoby Brissette Cleveland would become the starter in the event of Watson’s suspension. During the first week of camp, Watson took most of the photos with the first-team offense, but Stefansky indicated that the Browns may “adjust” their plan following Robinson’s decision.

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