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Editors’ note: This story contains accounts of sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or at https://www.rainn.org.

A decision on the NFL’s investigation into Deshaun Watson has not been announced yet, but according to ProFootballTalk, the NFL Players Association is preparing for an “unprecedented” punishment recommendation for the Browns quarterback. 

Watson could face a fine, suspension or nothing at all, but if an unpaid suspension is enacted under the personal conduct policy, ProFootballTalk reports that the NFLPA will “mobilize with an aggressive defense on Watson’s behalf.” This reportedly includes comparisons to how the league has handled the cases of three prominent team owners—the Commanders’ Daniel Snyder, Patriots’ Robert Kraft and Cowboys’ Jerry Jones. 

The argument reportedly is that the punishment of an unpaid suspension would not be proportional when comparing the three owners to the quarterback. As written in the policy: “Ownership and club or league management have traditionally been held to a higher standard and will be subject to more significant discipline when violations of the Personal Conduct Policy occur.”

According to ProFootballTalk, the union will reportedly argue the three team owners’ cases as follows. 

  • Snyder: In July 2021, Snyder agreed to temporarily cede control of the team to his wife, Tanya, in wake of the widespread controversy surrounding the franchise, of which he was at the center. The announcement came when the league partially released its findings from a workplace misconduct probe, levying a $10 million fine against the team. Roger Goodell said in March that Dan “has not been involved in day-to-day operations.” He added, “Don’t believe he’s been at the team facility at all, and when we continue to have league matters, Tanya [Snyder] has represented the team as the CEO on both a day-to-day basis, but also here with the league.” Here is the latest development into Congress’s investigation into the Commanders. 
  • Kraft: The Patriots’ owner did not receive a punishment in the alleged prostitution case. He was charged with solicitation; however, the charges were dropped given that the video violated individuals’ rights to privacy after it was secretly recorded.  
  • Jones: The league did not investigate the voyeurism scandal that involved Richard Dalrymple, Dallas’s longtime senior vice president for public relations and communications. Here is the information about the reported allegations.

Two dozen active civil lawsuits have been filed against Watson, each detailing graphic accounts of sexual harassment and sexual assault that occurred during massage therapy sessions. The accounts range from Watson allegedly refusing to cover his genitals to the quarterback “touching [a plaintiff] with his penis and trying to force her to perform oral sex on him.” The latest detailed that Watson masturbated and ejaculated on the plaintiff without her consent. And it’s expected that more could be on the horizon.

Watson has denied all allegations against him, and two Texas grand juries declined to indict him on criminal charges

On Tuesday, the quarterback deflected several questions to his attorneys, stating that he needed to wait for “all the facts” to come out and “go with the process” with his legal team. He was asked whether a report from The New York Times that he had booked massages with at least 66 women over a 17-month period was accurate, to which he replied, “I don’t think so, from what me and my attorneys went through.”

The Times’ Jenny Vrentas revealed in the same investigation in question that a Houston spa and the Texans reportedly “enabled” Watson’s massage habit, specifically that the franchise provided nondisclosure agreements and facilities for his sessions. The team, though, said in a March 2021 statement that it “became aware of a civil lawsuit involving Deshaun Watson through a social media post.” It later added, “This is the first time we heard of the matter.” 

The outlet’s investigation also found that Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, and the prosecutors at the district attorney’s office on the QB’s criminal cases had extensive contact leading up to the two grand juries.

Tony Buzbee, who represents the plaintiffs, released a statement last week stating that he plans to add the Texans and “others” as defendants to the ongoing civil lawsuits filed against Watson. 

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