Deshaun Watson’s saga is nearing an end, although an uneventful one for his 2022 NFL career, as the NFL and the NFLPA have settled. Watson will miss 11 regular season games and be fined $5 million. The decision comes after more than two dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions.
Watson’s original six-game suspension handed down by Judge Sue Bird was met with controversy by watchdog groups and professional organizations like the National Association of Massage Therapists. The NFL stated its intention to appeal the ruling, and from there, the league and the NFLPA began negotiating the next steps.
Deshaun Watson says just because he settled the cases and agreed to this suspension doesn't mean he's guilty of anything or did anything wrong.
He just wanted to move on from everything.pic.twitter.com/obTWAK2PL9
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) August 18, 2022
“I’m grateful that the disciplinary process has ended and extremely appreciative of the tremendous support I have received throughout my short time with the Browns organization,” Watson said in a statement released by the Browns.
“I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused. I take accountability for the decisions I made. My focus going forward is on working to become the best version of myself on and off the field and supporting my teammates however possible while I’m away from the team. I’m excited about what the future holds for me in Cleveland.”
His return sets up a faceoff of epic proportions as he is eligible for reinstatement on Nov. 28, but will be available to play for the Browns again in Week 13 against his old team, the Houston Texans, in a road game.
Watson’s suspension takes effect on Aug. 30, and he is getting ready for the game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday and then the Chicago Bears on Aug. 27.
In the middle of questions about Deshaun Watson's behavior, Jimmy Haslam says: "It's important to remember Deshaun Watson is 26-years old, and he's a hell of an NFL quarterback." pic.twitter.com/cIeLtnzkGg
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) August 18, 2022
“Deshaun has committed to doing the hard work on himself that is necessary for his return to the NFL,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “This settlement requires compliance with a professional evaluation and treatment plan, a significant fine, and a more substantial suspension. We are grateful to Judge Robinson and Peter Harvey for their efforts in addressing these matters, which laid the foundation for reaching this conclusion.”
Watson’s $5 million fine and $1 million contributions from the NFL and Browns will create a fund to support nonprofit organizations. The league said in a statement, “that educate young people on healthy relationships, promote education and prevention of sexual misconduct and assault, support survivors, and related causes.”
The Browns owners, Dee and Jimmy Haslam, expressed their continued support for their beleaguered QB.
Federal Judge: “Deshaun Watson will be suspended 6 games”
Roger Goodell: pic.twitter.com/by56KWQjmE
— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) August 3, 2022
“As we have previously conveyed, Deshaun and his representatives have abided by the NFL and NFLPA structure awaiting a final decision and we have respected the process,” Haslam’s said in a statement.
“Now that a decision on discipline has been reached, we understand this is a real opportunity to create meaningful change and we are committed to investing in programs in Northeast Ohio that will educate our youth regarding awareness, understanding, and most importantly, prevention of sexual misconduct and the many underlying causes of such behavior. Since Deshaun entered our building, he has been an outstanding member of our organization and shown a true dedication to working on himself both on and off the field. We will continue to support him as he focuses on earning the trust of our community.”
Watson refused to admit any wrongdoing during the press conference after the announcement, and the Brown ownership group plans to stand by their star amid the noise. Whether the Browns can match their new expectations and the $230 million price tag for his services is yet to be seen.