NFL Likely Seeking Season-Long Suspension for Cleveland Browns Quarterback Deshaun Watson

by Patrick Norton

For Deshaun Watson, spectating your team’s contests is nothing new. The 26-year-old NFL star did not attend a Houston Texans game last season while occupying a spot on the 53-man roster, instead receiving a “non-injury reasons/personal matter” designation each week.

While his absence from the Texans organization began as a trade request tactic, it spiraled into a necessity upon the opening of 24 civil lawsuits against Watson for harassment and sexual misconduct. Twenty-four Houston-based women working as massage therapists allege inappropriate behavior from Watson in the unresolved matter.

A grand jury declined to indict Watson on criminal charges in March, but the civil cases remain a black eye on the player, the team and the league. The quarterback made waves again last week, maintaining his innocence in a press scrum following a mandatory minicamp practice.

On Friday, the Washington Post’s Mark Maske shared information from a source within Deshaun Watson’s camp believing the league would seek a “significant” suspension for Cleveland’s quarterback.

Significant could mean a multitude of different things, but considering the league’s dedication and time spent on the matter leads to the assumption that it means at least one full season.

But the process appears distant from its conclusion. Sue L. Robinson – a former U.S. district judge currently serving as the NFL’s disciplinary officer – must eventually review the league’s findings in the investigation before making a disciplinary referral to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Watson is likely to appeal any decision based on his prior statements maintaining his innocence, but the league hopes to have a full resolution to the matter before the beginning of training camp in late July.

In the meantime, the three-time Pro Bowler is participating as the team’s number one option through offseason exercises.

Deshaun Watson’s Angle Is Acquittal, Not Sympathy

Deshaun Watson’s refusal to reference the women accusing him of heinous behavior isn’t out of the ordinary under similar unfortunate circumstances. Going the extra mile to subtly spurn them in pressers – apologizing to teammates and fans for the distractions – is certainly one path to take. However, it leaves little wiggle room for the quarterback if the civil suits settle out of Watson’s favor.

Character redemption is not in his vision at this moment; or if it is, he’s struggling. His hard stance on his own innocence backs Watson into a distraction-filled corner where he either receives zero punishment or must face the consequences of his actions.

The addition of two suits to the list of claims – and a New York Times exposé that revealed appointments with 66 different massage therapists in a two-year span – brought the case back to the front page, creating unbelievably muddy waters for the quarterback in his first offseason in Cleveland.