NFL Suspends Deshaun Watson Six Games Without Pay for Sexual Misconduct

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson participated in training camp last week as an arbitrator weighed whether he violated the N.F.L.’s personal conduct policy. (Credit…David Dermer/Associated Press)

Deshaun Watson, the Cleveland Browns quarterback accused by more than two dozen women of sexual misconduct during massage treatments, was suspended Monday for six games without pay for multiple violations of the National Football League’s personal conduct policy, according to a 16-page report released by the disciplinary officer who considered his case.

As a condition of his reinstatement, Watson was also directed to use only club-approved massage therapists, in club-directed sessions, for the duration of his career. He has not been fined or required to undergo counseling.

Sue L. Robinson, the retired federal judge jointly appointed by the N.F.L. and the players’ union to oversee the hearing, found that Watson violated the policy’s provisions by engaging in unwanted sexual contact with another person, endangering the safety and well-being of another person and undermining the N.F.L.’s integrity.

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She described Watson’s conduct as “predatory” and “egregious,” and said that he had not expressed remorse, but she rejected the N.F.L.’s recommendation that Watson be suspended for at least the full 2022 season. Robinson reasoned that there was no basis in the policy for a penalty that stiff for what she deemed nonviolent conduct.

The league and the players’ union have three business days to submit a written appeal, which would be handled by Commissioner Roger Goodell or a person of his choosing. The players’ union said in a statement on Sunday night — before Robinson informed both sides of her decision — that it would not appeal and called on the N.F.L. to let the ruling stand.

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SOURCE: The New York Times, Jenny Vrentas and Ken Belson

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