6 games. That’s all Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson received as punishment for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. That means Watson is available to play when the Browns visit the Baltimore Ravens on October 23rd. The only thing that could change that is if the NFL goes nuclear – and overrules the judge to lengthen Watson’s suspension.
Two dozen massage therapists accused Watson of various forms of sexual misconduct. They even sued the Houston Texans for providing hotel rooms and non-disclosure agreements. Even though there is no evidence the organization knew what was going on, the Texans quickly settled with the massage therapists. Watson has reached undisclosed agreements with all but one of his accusers.
The NFL appears to be in a no-win situation. They, along with the NFL Players Association, agreed to use a former judge named Sue Robinson to review the evidence and recommend punishment. She issued a 15-page statement Monday stating there was not enough evidence to punish Watson indefinitely, which is what the NFL wanted.
Two Texas counties refused to charge Watson criminally. It is difficult to prosecute sex crimes because it’s often a he said/she said argument. However, when it comes to two dozen women – I believe their collective word over that of one person who saw 66 massage therapists during a 17-month span. Some of those therapists were unlicensed and sought through Instagram DM’s.
A six-game suspension is a joke, considering past NFL players have been punished longer for marijuana and steroids. Six games – just two more than what Tom Brady received for deflated footballs. The NFL should go NUCLEAR – disregard the judge’s decision and suspend Watson for at least 12 games, which is what was the NFL reportedly offered as a compromise. Watson’s camp would likely file a lawsuit in response, calling for an injunction.
Is prolonging the Watson situation good for the NFL? It might be counterintuitive to think so, but I believe it is. CNBC reported in 2020 that nearly half of the NFL’s fans are women. They buy the jerseys. They buy the tickets. They fill the stands. Women make up a greater share of the league’s fanbase compared to the NBA and MLB. A six-game suspension for Watson is a slap in the face to the female fanbase.
What do you think? Are you happy with the 6-game suspension? Reach out to Michael on Twitter @MikeESPNSA. You can listen to Michael on Halftime, weekdays from Noon to 2 p.m. on 94.1 FM.