NFL: Suspended six games, Deshaun Watson settles three other civil lawsuits

NFL: Suspended six games, Deshaun Watson settles three other civil lawsuits

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has settled three other civil lawsuits, leaving only one pending as he was accused of sexual misconduct by 24 massage therapists.

That was confirmed by Houston attorney Tony Buzbee to ESPN reporter John Barr early Monday morning.

A little later, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport announced that Watson will be suspended for six games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Retired Judge Sue L. Robinson issued her decision on the disciplinary hearing that ended a month ago and informed the parties, who will now have three days to appeal the decision or not. The NFL Players Association already let it be known on Sunday that it would not be appealing, though the league has not commented yet.

“Every player, owner, business partner and stakeholder deserves to know that our process is legitimate and will not be tarnished by the whims of the League office,” the union said in a statement yesterday.

If either party appeals, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or his designate will make the decision, in accordance with the terms of the collective agreement. The union could then try to challenge this decision in federal court.

While awaiting that decision, Watson attended training camp for the Browns. He continued to take most of the rehearsals with the first offensive unit, which will be handled by reservist Jacoby Brissett during his absence.

The league had pleaded for an indefinite suspension of at least a year during a three-day hearing in Delaware last month. The NFL Players Association has pushed for no punishment, although a person familiar with Watson’s defense told the AP in June that a suspension was expected and that the goal was to allow Watson to play this season.

The NFL and the Watson clan would have continued discussions in the last days in order to come to a settlement, learned Dan Graziano of ESPN, but they did not come close to an agreement. The Watson clan would have been ready to accept a suspension of 6 to 8 games, according to sources, while the league was ready to offer a sanction of 12 games in addition to a significant fine of around $8 million.

Two separate Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal charges arising from the allegations.

“Every player, owner, business partner and stakeholder deserves to know that our process is legitimate and will not be tarnished by the whims of the League office,” the union said in a statement.

If either party appeals, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or his designate will make the decision, in accordance with the terms of the collective agreement. The union could then try to challenge this decision in federal court.

While awaiting that decision, Watson attended training camp for the Browns. He continued to take most of the rehearsals with the first offensive unit, which will be handled by reservist Jacoby Brissett during his absence.

The league had sought an indefinite suspension of at least a year and a $5 million fine for the 26-year-old Watson during a three-day hearing before Robinson in June. The NFL Players Association argued that Watson should not be punished at all because he has not been convicted of any crime.

Two Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson over complaints filed by 10 of the women.

It was the first case for Robinson, a former U.S. district judge jointly appointed by the NFL and the union to handle player misconduct, a role previously held by Goodell.

A three-time Pro Bowl selection with the Texans, Watson saw his playing career tarnished by allegations he acted inappropriately around women during massage therapy sessions he scheduled via social media. He missed the 2021 season.

In their lawsuits, the women accused Watson of exposing himself, touching them with his penis or kissing them against their will. A woman alleged that Watson forced her to perform oral sex.

Watson denied any wrongdoing, insisting any sexual activity with three of the women was consensual. He publicly insisted his goal was to clear his name before agreeing to confidential financial settlements with 20 of the women on June 21.

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