CLEVELAND OH – In a devastating blow to the Cleveland Browns, Judge Sue L. Robinson, a third-party arbiter, passed down a 6-game suspension ruling against the Cleveland Browns Quarterback, Deshaun Watson, on August 1st.
Twenty-four women sued Deshaun Watson for sexual misconduct during massage sessions held in 2020 and 2021.
However, on August 3rd, the NFL appealed the six-game suspension of Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, according to an NFL spokesman.
Judge Sue L. Robinson’s 16-page report thoroughly explains the path through which she inferred the decision. The report concluded that Mr. Watson was suspended for six games without pay on allegations of non-violent sexual conduct.
Since the NFL and NFL Players Association (NFLPA) follow the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to conduct their business. The CBA dictates that the NFL Commissioner has the authority to discipline its players when violating the “NFL Personal Conduct Policy.”
This policy states that even if the player isn’t awarded a criminal conviction, the player found to have engaged in prohibited conduct will be subject to discipline. This triggered the NFL’s response to the first civil lawsuit against Deshaun Watson.
Also, the ruling imposed a condition on his reinstatement. Watson will have to limit his massage sessions to Club-directed sessions for the rest of his career when he returns from suspension.
It was also stated that Mr. Watson would not engage in any illegal activity against the law and the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.
Furthermore, Judge Robinson found Watson’s behavior “egregious” and “predatory” and inferred that he had ill intentions when he consistently brought his own medium/small-sized towels to the massage sessions, which is against the prevalent practice in the therapy industry.
24 Civil Lawsuits
Before joining the Cleveland Browns, Mr. Watson played for the Houston Texans, where he was first accused of sexual misconduct and faced a lawsuit. Later, a series of 24 lawsuits alleging untoward and lewd behavior against women hired to provide massage therapy were filed against him.
These encounters spanned from March 2020 to March 2021. The Cleveland Browns traded for Mr. Watson in March 2022. He now holds a hefty $230 million fully guaranteed five-year contract with the Cleveland Browns.
The Texas courts that tried these lawsuits didn’t convict Watson, but the NFL acted as per its policy. The NFL and Watson’s legal team had previously held talks but failed to reach an agreement. Hence, they appointed a third-party arbiter Judge Sue L. Robinson.
As per the ruling, the NFL interviewed 12 of those 24 women that had filed lawsuits against Mr. Watson and found that he brought his own small/medium-sized towels to the sessions, likely slipping off the body.
Also, the women accused him of exposing his genitals and forcing unsolicited contact. The judge inferred that Mr. Watson had committed non-violent sexual misconduct toward these women.
Cleveland Browns Quarterback Deshaun Watson faces a 6-game suspension: All sites are 100% legal & licensed by the OCCC.
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It was shared that massage therapists usually use a long sheet to drape the clients to protect their privacy and save the therapists from indecent exposure and contact.
The judge found the use of personal small/medium-sized towels by Mr. Watson undisputed.
The attorney representing the plaintiffs in the Watson litigation, Tony Buzbee, said all but one of those lawsuits had been settled by Mr. Watson till Monday, August 1st.
But the NFL appealed the decision on August 3rd. As evident from previous misconduct cases, the NFL is reportedly seeking a year-long suspension and a substantial monetary fine.
Now the matter resides with the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, to decide who will hear the appeal. And the decision will be final and binding to both parties.
The plaintiffs’ attorney Tony Buzbee held a press conference on August 4thto criticize how the NFL has handled the investigation.
What does it mean for the Cleveland Browns?
As for the Browns fans, the club owners said they empathized with the individuals involved in this investigation. However, they stated that they still support Mr. Watson.
The Browns coach, Kevin Stefanski, had said that Jacoby Brissett would be the Browns’ starter if Mr. Watson faced suspension. However, he refused to comment on the verdict. Stefanski noted that he believed when Watson when he said that he was working to be the best version of himself.
The Browns would be in a much better position had Deshaun Watson been the starter and Jacoby Brissett under center. Mr. Watson can still attend training.
But he won’t participate in training for the first half of his suspension when the season starts. He is scheduled to return to Baltimore in Week 7. However, things will be more apparent when the result of the appeal is known.
He’ll have some time to train and regain form, and hopefully, the Cleveland Browns will be ready to fight Tampa Bay Buccaneers on home turf on November 7th.
Lisa HowardSports writer
Started my interest in sports at a young age by attending the Cincinnati Bengal’s home games. Now an accomplished writer for OH Gamblers