The ruling has come down in Deshaun Watson’s, and it is lighter than we would’ve expected.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport has the scoop on the Browns quarterback getting a six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy following more than 20 accusations of sexual misconduct:
In an offseason in which DeAndre Hopkins was given a six-game PED suspension and Calvin Ridley will miss the entire season for betting on games via an app, Watson getting a six-game suspension after being on the receiving end of 25 civil lawsuits from women accusing him of sexual misconduct feels light. But in her ruling, Judge/disciplinary officer Sue L Robinson concluded that while Watson was in violation of the league’s personal conduct policy, there wasn’t enough evidence to justify the indefinite suspension the NFL was seeking.
NFL Network Tom Pelissero shares more perspective from Robinson:
Should this suspension stand, Watson is in line to miss games against the Panthers, Jets, Steelers, Falcons, Chargers, and Patriots. And because of the way his record-setting contract with the Browns was structured in that he wouldn’t lose a hearty chunk of cash for a suspension, Watson will lose just $345,000 based on his base salary. As Rap Sheet points out, Watson would’ve given up $11.67 million under the previous structure for a six-game suspension.
The NFL can file for appeal of the ruling. It has three days to do so. I imagine the NFL will get on that after lobbying for an indefinite suspension. One that would’ve allowed Watson to apply for re-instatement after one year, but still serious enough to set precedent. Meanwhile, the NFLPA gave a statement yesterday saying it wouldn’t appeal the ruling. It will be interesting to see how this process plays out. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would hear any appeal. On top of that, he could impose a longer suspension. In other words, this probably isn’t the last we’ll hear of this.