After a nail-biting 24 hours since it was announced that Deshaun Watson would find out his playing fate, he was handed a six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Additionally, it appears Watson was not fined.
Parties involved in the disciplinary hearing for #Browns QB Deshaun Watson have been informed by Judge Sue Robinson that Watson should be suspended 6 games, sources say.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 1, 2022
On Sunday the NFL world was abuzz with speculation over the pending NFL decision for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson.
“Per sources, Deshaun Watson and the NFL did engage in further settlement talks in recent days, but neither side felt they got close,” posted ESPN NFL Insider Dan Graziano. “The best Watson’s side indicated it would accept was 6-8 games. Best league indicated it was willing to do was 12 games + heavy fine $8 mil range).”
Ahead of the decision, Watson prepared himself by aligning with the NFL Players Association to prepare for the windfall or potential fallout in public perception. On Sunday, he released a joint statement with the organization.
Per sources, Deshaun Watson and the NFL did engage in further settlement talks in recent days, but neither side felt they got close. The best Watson’s side indicated it would accept was 6-8 games. Best league indicated it was willing to do was 12 games + heavy fine $8 mil range).
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) August 1, 2022
“In advance of Judge Robinson’s decision, we wanted to reiterate the facts of the proceeding,” the statement began. “First, we have fully cooperated with every NFL inquiry and provided the NFL with the most comprehensive set of information for any personal conduct policy investigation. A former Federal Judge – appointed jointly by the NFLPA and NFL – held a full and fair hearing, has read thousands of pages of investigative documents and reviewed arguments from both sides impartially.
“Every player, owner, business partner and stakeholder deserves to know that our process is legitimate and will not be tarnished based on the whims of the League office. This is why, regardless of her decision, Deshaun and the NFLPA will stand by her ruling and we call on the NFL to do the same.”
Deshaun Watson was suspended six games; he was not fined, per source. pic.twitter.com/8lWWvVXjBY
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 1, 2022
Watson’s fate depended on one person, Sue L. Robinson, the NFL and NFLPA’s impartial arbitrator, who ultimately needs to decide if he violated the league’s personal conduct policy for his alleged accusations of sexual misconduct. By all accounts, she is as real as it gets in legality, and it was an uncertainty how she would gauge his level of violation.
It now seems that Robinson felt the need to be a bit lenient with the star.
While you were asleep: #Browns QB Deshaun Watson settled 3 of the 4 remaining civil lawsuits.
— Brad Stainbrook (@StainbrookNFL) August 1, 2022
Sue Lewis Robinson was a federal United States District Court judge for the District of Delaware. She first joined the court in 1991 after an appointment by President George H.W. Bush, where at the time of her appointment to her position, she was a federal magistrate judge for the district court.
Both Watson and the NFLPA now have three days to enter a written appeal. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell or a designee “will issue a written decision that will constitute a full, final and complete disposition of the dispute,” according to Article 46 in the collective bargaining agreement.
Ruling on Deshaun Watson personal conduct policy case expected by roughly 9 a.m. Eastern, per a league source https://t.co/NXV1LBdo2D
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) July 31, 2022
For the Browns, who traded in March for Watson and eventually sent their former QB Baker Mayfield to the Carolina Panthers, and three first-round draft picks to the Houston Texans where Watson came from, it is a bet with a hefty price tag. Cleveland gave the beleaguered QB the richest deal in NFL history, a new five-year contract worth $230 million that is fully guaranteed.
For the Browns, the impending ruling seemed of little consequence to team morale.
“Doesn’t change, regardless of how the situation works itself out,” said pass-rusher Myles Garrett to the media before the Browns’ first training camp practice Wednesday. “We’re going to hold ourselves to the highest standards.
“No matter what happens, the defense is going to do what they do,” Garrett continued. “Last time I heard, [the opponent] can’t win if they don’t score points. The offense always needs our best. So it’s not going to change whether he’s not on the field or he is on the field.”
Through the court of public perception, the Browns have stuck by Watson and now will only suffer lightly, all things considered, for inheriting the albatross around Watson’s neck.