Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has been suspended for the 11 games of the regular season for violating the conduct policy of the league and fined $5 million. Previously two dozen women alleged the former Houston Texans player perpetrated obscene acts at the time of massage therapy appointments.
On Thursday the NFL announced that Watson will also have to undergo an obligatory behavior evaluation and enter a treatment program. The 26-year-old, who joined the Houston Texans in 2017 previously, switched sides with the Browns in March earlier this year.
“Deshaun has committed to doing the hard work on himself that is necessary for his return to the NFL. This settlement requires compliance with a professional evaluation and treatment plan, a significant fine, and a more substantial suspension,” read an official statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, “We are grateful to Judge Robinson and Peter Harvey for their efforts in addressing these matters, which laid the foundation for reaching this conclusion.”
In 2020 as well as 2021, Watson made headlines for inappropriate behavior during massage therapy appointments, which includes exposing himself and touching the hands of the therapist with his penis.
The first suspension of the 26-year-old Watson was six games without pay. The recent 11-game suspension would enforce when the Browns harden their roster for the next season, and till 28th November he will be ineligible for restoration until the league declared.
I’ve never assaulted anyone or disrespected anyone: Deshaun Watson
Watson has resolved 23 of the 24 lawsuits against him that agitated the allegations, with the most recent three ending in undisclosed settlements. He has not been criminally charged and has repeatedly asserted innocence. Watson thanked the team and said he was “grateful that the disciplinary process has ended,” in a statement through Browns.
“I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused,” he said. “I take accountability for the decisions I made. My focus going forward is on working to become the best version of myself on and off the field and supporting my teammates however possible while I’m away from the team. I’m excited about what the future holds for me in Cleveland.”
While speaking with the media on Thursday, Watson again claimed he was innocent and elucidated the reason for his decision to settle the lawsuits against him.
“I’ve always stood on my innocence and always said that I’ve never assaulted anyone or disrespected anyone, and I’m continuing to stand on that. But at the same time, I have to continue to push forward with my life and my career,” he said, “For us to be able to move forward, I have to be able to take steps and put pride to the side, and I’m going to continue to stand on my innocence and keep pushing forward, and I’ve always stood on not disrespecting or sexually assaulting anyone.” [H/T ABC News]
The joint decision by the NFL and NFLPA is an “opportunity” said the owners of the Browns, Dee and Jimmy Haslam respectively.
“As we have previously conveyed, Deshaun and his representatives have abided by the NFL and NFLPA structure awaiting a final decision and we have respected the process. Now that a decision on discipline has been reached, we understand this is a real opportunity to create meaningful change, and we are committed to investing in programs in Northeast Ohio that will educate our youth regarding awareness, understanding, and most importantly, prevention of sexual misconduct and the many underlying causes of such behavior,” a joint statement from the NFL and NFLPA read.
“Since Deshaun entered our building, he has been an outstanding member of our organization and shown a true dedication to working on himself both on and off the field. We will continue to support him as he focuses on earning the trust of our community,” the statement added.