Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson faces a six-game suspension for violating the National Football League’s (NFL) personal-conduct policy after allegations of sexual misconduct, an independent disciplinary officer said Monday, August 1 (Tuesday, August 2, Manila time).
Former U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson said in her decision that Watson violated the league’s personal conduct policy “in various ways” but did not impose a fine.
A source close to the matter told Reuters the league was initially seeking a one-year suspension for Watson, one of the highest-paid players in the NFL.
As per the collective bargaining agreement, the NFL or the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) is allowed to appeal on behalf of Watson within three days.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league was reviewing the suspension and would decide on the next steps.
“We thank Judge Sue L. Robinson, the independent disciplinary officer, for her review of the voluminous record and attention during a three-day hearing that resulted in her finding multiple violations of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy by Deshaun Watson,” McCarthy said in a statement.
The NFLPA on Sunday, July 31 (Monday, August 1, Manila time) called on the NFL to stand by Robinson’s ruling.
The Browns’ owners, Dee and Jimmy Haslam said they will continue to support Watson.
“We know Deshaun is remorseful that this situation has caused much heartache to many and he will continue the work needed to show who he is on and off the field,” they said in a statement.
All but four of the 24 lawsuits that alleged sexual assault by Watson were settled in June after more than 20 women came forward last year.
A Texas grand jury previously declined to indict Watson.
In March, the 26-year-old Watson denied sexually assaulting or acting in an inappropriate manner towards any of the 22 women who had made complaints against him at the time.
Watson, who did not play last season, joined the Browns from the Houston Texans in March this year, signing a five-year, $230 million contract. – Rappler.com