Updated: Aug 9, 2022
In what has been a long process for Cleveland Browns quarterback, Deshaun Watson, regarding his sexual misconduct allegations, the NFL has finally come to a verdict on a punishment for the star quarterback by suspending him for the first six games of the season. The six-game suspension will be without compensation, but he will not be fined for violating the league’s personal conduct policy following accusations of sexual misconduct.
Disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson issued her ruling in a 15-page report, stating that the league recommended suspending Watson for the entirety of the 2022 season. The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and the league have until Thursday 9 a.m. ET to file an appeal of Robinson’s ruling. If the league were to make an appeal, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or his signee "will issue a written decision that will constitute full, final and complete disposition of the dispute,'' per the terms of Article 46 in the league's collective bargaining agreement.
Robinson concluded that Watson’s misconduct "does not fall into the category of violent conduct that would require the minimum 6-game suspension.” The ruling came to a verdict by studying 32 previous suspensions under the league’s conduct policy since 2015. In past suspensions, such as Johnny Manziel and Greg Hardy, players were suspended for only four games.
Robinson ruled that Watson is to limit his massage therapy to club-directed sessions and club-approved massage therapists for the duration of his career, “and so [I] impose this mandate as a condition to his reinstatement,” she said. She also ruled Watson “to have no adverse involvement with law enforcement, and must not commit any additional violations of the Policy."
Watson has been in training camp trying to get ready for the team's upcoming season. If the league appeals and the suspension is upheld, Watson will be able to practice with the team and participate in preseason games. He will also be able to return to practicing with the team during the second half of the suspension in Week 4, according to the CBA, but will not be allowed to during the first half.
He won’t be eligible to play until October 23, against the Baltimore Ravens at Baltimore. The Browns quarterback will miss six of his $57,500 game checks in 2022, for a total of $345,000 lost off his $1.035 million base salary. That doesn’t seem like much, considering he is guaranteed a league-high $230 million that includes a base salary of $46 million in 2023 and $44.965 million signing bonus.
Can the polarizing Watson ignore the distractions off the field to become the dynamic star quarterback he was before all the allegations? We shall wait and see what ultimately happens in what should be an interesting season.