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Browns QB Deshaun Watson Suspended 11 Games

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

The NFL and its players union have reached a settlement agreement on Deshaun Watson’s punishment for alleged sexual misconduct—an 11-game suspension and $5 million fine, per a league statement. 

The Browns quarterback also will undergo counseling. 

The league had appealed disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson’s six-game suspension. As commissioner Roger Goodell’s designee, former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey was working to determine his own ruling while Watson’s camp and the NFL reportedly conducted settlement talks, per ESPN’s Dan Graziano

The settlement comes after Watson played in the team’s first preseason game, at Jacksonville, and after Goodell called Watson’s behavior “egregious” and “predatory.” 

Watson now is poised to return to regular-season action on Dec. 4 against his previous team, the Texans, in Houston.

The agreement comes on the heels of a previous report by the Associated Press that Watson would be willing to serve an eight-game suspension and pay a $5 million fine.

Watson was the subject of an investigation into reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault that lasted well over a year. More than two dozen women have provided detailed graphic accounts of sexual misconduct by Watson during massage therapy sessions. The accounts range from Watson 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.”

Beginning in March 2021, 25 women filed lawsuits against Watson. One plaintiff dropped her case due to privacy concerns, but the other two dozen remained active until June ’22, when 20 settlements were reached. Watson reportedly settled three of the remaining four lawsuits ahead of the Aug. 1 ruling. 

Watson has denied wrongdoing, and two Texas grand juries declined to indict him on criminal charges this spring. He publicly apologized—without admitting to any specific offenses—for the first time ahead of Cleveland’s preseason game against Jacksonville. 

The Browns traded three first-round draft picks to Houston in March for Watson and then signed him to a five-year, $230 million contract. The earnings in the pact reportedly were backloaded to minimize the financial damage to Watson via suspension.

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