The Deshaun Watson saga is over… A win-win for both sides
FILE - Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson throws during NFL football practice in Berea, Ohio, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022. A person familiar with the situation tells The Associated Press on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, that Watson has reached a settlement with the NFL and will serve an 11-game suspension and pay a $5 million fine rather than risk missing his first season as quarterback of the Browns following accusations of sexual misconduct while he played for the Houston Texans. (AP Photo/David Dermer, File)

I’m so glad the Deshaun Watson saga is over. Today, he agreed to an 11-game suspension and $5 million fine. That means Watson gets to play this season for the Cleveland Browns. Coincidentally, the first game Watson is eligible to play is against his former team, the Houston Texans, on December 4th.

Don’t get me wrong – I hoped the NFL would have suspended Watson for the entire season. More than two dozen massage therapists in the Houston area accused the star quarterback of some sort of sexual misconduct during their sessions. No charges were ever filed. Watson maintained his innocence, though he did settle 23 of the 24 lawsuits against him. The Houston Texans also made confidential settlements with 30 massage therapists.

 

The NFL was in a no-win situation… and that is why I am happy with today’s settlement. The NFL appealed the initial recommendation of a six-game suspension, despite the league and the NFL Players Association agreeing to the original arbitrator. The NFL had to make a move. If they failed to do so, they would have angered many fans across the league.

Imagine if Watson had taken this dispute to federal court. Imagine if Watson had won that case (which probably would have happened). Imagine if the new arbitrator agreed with the original punishment. The NFL avoids that potential embarrassment by agreeing to a settlement. Both sides win. The NFL can spin the fact that Watson’s initial punishment was nearly doubled. Watson can move forward with his career, knowing that he can play later this season.

 

Deshaun Watson has not played a regular season game since January 2021. He looked terrible in his first preseason game, only completing one pass for seven yards. Hopefully, he turns his life around. The first step is taking accountability. Unfortunately, that is something he has yet to do. Until then, people will be watching… and hoping Watson fails.

 

What do you think? Are you happy with Deshaun Watson’s 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.