Fans debate Watson's 6-game suspension for assault claims
HOUSTON (AP) — After Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was suspended for six games following accusations by two dozen women in Texas of sexual misconduct during massage treatments, a debate began among fans over whether his discipline was just. Even among Browns fans, who hope Watson can be the franchise quarterback they’ve long searched for, the reaction to his suspension was mixed. Watson was traded to Cleveland from Houston this offseason for three first-round picks and the Browns then signed him to a $230 million, five-year contract, despite his legal issues.
Deshaun Watson was suspended for six games by former federal judge Sue L. Robinson as part of the NFL's investigation into his off-field conduct. It appears he is offering to serve a slightly longer ban given the likelihood that the suspension term will increase sharply on appeal.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that Watson would be willing to accept an eight-game suspension and a $5 million fine if his camp can reach a settlement with the NFL.
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Why would Deshaun Watson be willing to agree to a longer suspension?
It's all about guaranteeing that he can play during the 2022 NFL season.
AP Sports SummaryBrief at 5:14 a.m. EDT
Browns QB Watson suspended 6 games, NFL weighs appeal Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was suspended for six games after being accused by two dozen women in Texas of sexual misconduct during massage treatments, in what a disciplinary officer said was behavior “more egregious than any before reviewed by the NFL.” The punishment handed out by the game’s disciplinary officer, former federal judge Sue L. Robinson, fell well short of what the NFL had asked for: an open-ended suspension of at least a year for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
The length of Watson's suspension is unsettled. The NFL appealed Robinson's ruling, with commissioner Roger Goodell saying a longer ban is warranted because of the evidence that was uncovered in the investigation.
We’ve seen the evidence. [Robinson] was very clear about the evidence. She reinforced the evidence that there [were] multiple violations here and they were egregious and it was predatory behavior.
The appeal is being heard by former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey, who was appointed by Goodell and has extensive ties to the NFL. That may be why Watson's camp is offering a settlement now.
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Would the NFL accept a Deshaun Watson settlement offer?
The NFL has been vocal about its desire to suspend Watson for at least a season. The AP reports that remains the league's main goal in the appeal hearings.
Browns in limbo while QB Deshaun Watson's saga shifts again
CLEVELAND (AP) — When owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam returned from Houston in March with Deshaun Watson under contract, the Browns' long search for a franchise quarterback — a fruitless 20-year odyssey — appeared to be over. Nothing's changed. Cleveland's in a muddle. Again. The NFL's decision to appeal the six-game suspension for Watson handed down by independent arbiter Sue L. Robinson, who ruled he violated the league's personal conduct policy,Nothing's changed.
The league is seeking a minimum suspension of 17 games, a significant fine over $5 million and wants Watson to be required to undergo evaluation and treatment as determined by medical experts before he could be reinstated.
If Harvey rules in favor of the NFL and suspends Watson for longer than six weeks, it will be difficult for Watson and the NFL Players Association to challenge it. The NFL's personal conduct policy states that whoever hears the appeal "may overturn, reduce, modify or increase the discipline previously issued, [and it] will be final and binding on all parties."
MORE: Latest news, updates on NFL's appeal of the Deshaun Watson suspension
Watson and the NFLPA could still take the NFL to federal court over Harvey's ruling, but the policy's language would make it difficult for a judge to overturn the decision.
That may be why a settlement suddenly looks appealing to Watson's side. It doesn't want to risk Watson being suspended for a year.
Roger Goodell explains why NFL appealing Deshaun Watson's suspension 'was the right thing to do'
Roger Goodell explains why NFL appealing Deshaun Watson's suspension 'was the right thing to do'Robinson, an arbiter jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA to hear the Watson case, ruled that the Browns quarterback should be suspended six games for violating the league's personal conduct policy. This was considered a win for Watson and the Browns, as the NFL had been pushing for a year-long ban.
On the other side, an eight-game suspension may not be appealing to the NFL. ESPN's Dan Graziano reported before Robinson's ruling that the NFL wouldn't settle for anything less than 12 games and a fine of about $8 million.
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
It's unclear whether the NFL is in active settlement discussions with Watson's camp, the AP reported. But if the league is, it's hard to imagine that it would be willing to accept Watson's initial offer.
Deshaun Watson contract, explained: Why a suspension won't have much impact on Browns QB's earnings with Cleveland .
Deshaun Watson contract, explained: Why a suspension won't have much impact on Browns QB's earnings with ClevelandUltimately, Cleveland won the sweepstakes for his services, but the team still faced some major questions.