Deshaun Watson suspended 11 games, fined $5M by NFL

Sports

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson looks to throw during NFL football practice in Berea, Ohio, Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

(NewsNation) — Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson reached a settlement with the NFL and will serve an 11-game suspension and pay a $5 million fine, according to a statement from the ​league.

Watson’s suspension follows months of posturing between Watson’s legal team, the NFL and NFL Players Association over Watson’s violations of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy.

Watson, 26, was accused of sexual assault and harassment during massage therapy sessions by two dozen women while he played for the Houston Texans.

As part of the settlement, which concludes the disciplinary process, Watson will undergo a professional evaluation by behavioral experts and will follow their treatment program.

In a statement released by the Browns, Watson said, “I’m grateful that the disciplinary process has ended and extremely appreciative of the tremendous support I have received throughout my short time with the Browns organization. I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused. I take accountability for the decisions I made.”

On Aug. 1, the three-time Pro Bowler was suspended for six games by a former federal judge appointed by the league and union to act as an independent disciplinary officer.

The judge found Watson violated the league’s personal conduct policy on multiple occasions after reviewing an investigation into his actions and called his behavior “egregious” and “predatory.”

Believing the suspension was too light, the league appealed and pushed for a suspension of at least a year.

Two separate grand juries in Texas declined to indict Watson, who has denied any wrongdoing. He recently settled 23 of 24 lawsuits.

In a press conference following the announcement, Watson said that he was ready to move forward with his career.

“I’ve always been able to stand on my innocence and always said I never assaulted or disrespected anyone,” Watson said. “But at the same point I have to continue to push forward with my life and career.”

Watson’s suspension will take effect at the final roster cutdown and he will be eligible for reinstatement on Nov. 28, potentially making him available for the Browns’ game on Dec. 4 in Houston.

“Deshaun has committed to doing the hard work on himself that is necessary for his return to the NFL,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in response to the settlement.

Goodell said the NFL and Browns will each donate $1 million to create a new fund “that will support the work of non-profit organizations across the country that educate young people on healthy relationships, promote education and prevention of sexual misconduct and assault, support survivors, and related causes.”

The Browns acquired Watson via trade from the Houston Texans and signed him to a five-year, $230 million contract in the offseason.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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