The current situation surrounding Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is a troubling one, as he faces no less than 20 civil lawsuits at this point in time for alleged incidents of sexual assault. And while it may be some time until this case comes to an end, the eventual outcome in the courts may not be the only barrier Watson will have to overcome to get his NFL career back on track, with a potential suspension a real possibility, per ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio.
Appearing on The Jake Asman Show, Florio admitted that he was hesitant to make any predictions at this moment in time.
However, in the event that the individuals involved "settle the cases with a confidentiality agreement," there is a precedent set for how to deal with these situations which may be looked to as a blueprint for how Watson may be dealt with.
With this in mind, Florio said: "I still think there’s a good chance he gets suspended."
The precedent in question is how the league dealt with Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger in 2010 when he was accused of sexual assault. More specifically, this is applicable to Watson based on the letter NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote to the Steelers QB at the time.
"You could take those same messages, same thoughts, that same reasoning and apply it to Deshaun Watson and conclude that based on what we know, there’s reason for intervention, there’s for discipline, there’s reason for Deshaun Watson to step away from football and address this apparent habit of being massaged by a bunch of different people," said Florio.
"... and based on the defense as to one of the plaintiffs that there was consensual sex, it bolsters the idea that he was at least entering into these interactions with that possibility somewhere on the radar screen. How central to the radar screen it was we don’t know, but just the mere fact that it was on the radar screen could be enough for the NFL to decide to take action."
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Some might find it hard to argue with Florio's statement.
If you look at the following segment from the commissioner's letter - regardless of the outcome of Watson's civil cases - the references here to personal standards and values could apply similarly to the Texans star.
Wrote Goodell: "My decision today is not based on a finding that you violated Georgia law, or on a conclusion that differs from that of the local prosecutor. That said, you are held to a higher standard as an NFL player, and there is nothing about your conduct in Milledgeville that can remotely be described as admirable, responsible, or consistent with either the values of the league or the expectations of our fans."
"The Personal Conduct Policy makes clear that I may impose discipline 'even where the conduct does not result in conviction of a crime' as, for example, where the conduct 'imposes inherent danger to the safety and well being of another person.'''
Granted, it is hard to know quite how comparable Roethlisberger and Watson's cases are given that the details released about the latter are currently so vague.
That being said, in the Roethlisberger letter, Goodell also wrote: "The Personal Conduct Policy also states that discipline is appropriate for conduct that 'undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL players."
Should the details remain murky to the public, the question for Goodell could be: To what extent has Watson undermined the reputation of the league or the Texans?
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