Social Media Reacts to NFL’s Disciplinary Ruling on Cleveland Browns’ Deshaun Watson

by Patrick Norton

With the NFL and NFLPA agreeing to a new punishment for Deshaun Watson, it lays to rest one of the largest storylines in the league’s offseason. Watson hasn’t seen regular season action since January 2021. After requesting a trade from the Houston Texans in the 2021 offseason, the situation spiraled out of control.

As 26 women – all Houston-based massage therapists – accused Watson of sexual misconduct and the quarterback remained sidelined the entirety of last season. But after a grand jury declined to indict Watson on criminal charges, the Texans shipped the quarterback to Cleveland.

The Browns welcomed Watson with open arms, much to the chagrin of football fans wondering if the quarterback would face proper consequences. When disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson suspended Watson just six games, many chimed in that the punishment did not fit the crime.

However, the NFL appealed Robinson’s decision with hopes of a longer banishment. But with the players association threatening legal action in response to the appeal, both sides went to the bargaining table. And with Watson’s suspension upped to 11 games with a $5 million fine, the majority opinion remains the 11 games lacks worthiness in severity.

Social Media’s Overwhelming Disappointment in Handling of Deshaun Watson

Sports writer Craig Calcaterra highlighted the oddity in Watson’s final term. An 11 game suspension means that Watson becomes eligible to return in Week 13 against the Houston Texans. Calcaterra points out that the optics represent a greater importance on ratings than serving the actual punishment.

NFL writer Dov Kleiman brought up the difference in penalties and the unexplainable variations. Watson received an 11-game suspension for acts deemed predatory by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. But Calvin Ridley bet a minor parlay on his team to succeed and lost a full year.

However, the NFL has stricter rules against gambling than sexually harassing masseuses. As Kansas City radio host Joshua Brisco says, comparing Ridley’s suspension to Watson’s is tough without the drawn out battle over banishment. As the story grew for Watson, the severity grew in the public perspective, but lessened thanks to allowable evidence in Robinson’s hearing.