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Deshaun Watson to Serve Six-Game Suspension, Per Ruling

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

Sue L. Robinson, the disciplinary officer appointed by the NFL and players association, ruled Deshaun Watson should be suspended for six games in 2022, according to The MMQB’s Albert Breer. ESPN’s Adam Schefter was the first to report Monday’s news. 

The proposed punishment comes after the league’s investigation into the sexual harassment and assault allegations levied against the Browns’ quarterback that lasted well over a year. More than two dozen women have detailed 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.”

Twenty-five women filed civil lawsuits against Watson starting in March 2021, and only one dropped her case due to privacy concerns in April ’21. Watson, then, agreed to settle 20 of the 24 civil lawsuits in June ’22. Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, announced the news, saying the terms and amounts agreed to are confidential and “we won’t comment further on the settlements or those cases.”

Watson reportedly settled three of the remaining four civil cases against him ahead of Monday’s disciplinary decision.

The quarterback has denied all allegations against him, and two Texas grand juries declined to indict him on criminal charges earlier this spring.

Watson’s hearing with Robinson began June 28 with all three sides preparing arguments for their respective points of view. The league was reportedly pushing for an “indefinite suspension,” which would “give the NFL the flexibility to keep him out for longer based on a variety of factors, including whether more cases surface,” per The Wall Street Journal. NFL officials have reportedly “zeroed in” on five specific women “whose cases they believe include the strongest evidence.” The league reportedly wanted the “indefinite suspension” to be no less than one year.

According to The MMQB’s Albert Breer, settlement talks between the parties collapsed when the NFL pushed for a full-season punishment while the players association argued for something lighter. They reportedly planned to show comparisons to the league’s handling of cases involving three prominent team owners—the Commanders’ Daniel Snyder, the Patriots’ Robert Kraft and the Cowboys’ Jerry Jones.

The hearing lasted three days, and post-trial briefs were requested from both sides. The personal conduct policy was at the core of this case, which prohibits “assault and/or battery, including sexual assault or other sex offenses.” There’s a six-game baseline for “sexual assault involving physical force or committed against someone incapable of giving consent.”

According to ProFootballTalk, when the hearing concluded, the league failed to include evidence that the quarterback made threats, engaged in violence, used force or coerced.

The Browns’ quarterback is able to appeal the ruling. According to ESPN’s Sarah Barshop, league commissioner Roger Goodell will either make a final decision or call upon an independent ruler.

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