For months, fans and experts thought Deshaun Watson would be handed down a significant suspension after he was accused of sexual assault and inappropriate conduct during massage sessions in civil lawsuits filed by 25 women.
However, the Cleveland Browns quarterback will serve a six-game suspension without pay but will not be fined for violating the league’s personal conduct policy following accusations of sexual misconduct, disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson ruled Monday.
Robinson also found that Watson’s “predatory conduct cast ‘a negative light on the League and its players.'”
Robinson ruled that Watson is “to limit his massage therapy to Club-directed sessions and Club-approved massage therapists for the duration of his career, and so [I] impose this mandate as a condition to his reinstatement.” She also ruled that Watson is “to have no adverse involvement with law enforcement, and must not commit any additional violations of the Policy.”
Former ESPN personality brought up an excellent point after Robinson issued her ruling in a comprehensive 16-page report.
“If you have to put in the ruling that Deshaun Watson is only allowed to utilize the Browns’ massage therapists, then maybe he should be getting suspended more than 6 games.”
In response to a Twitter user, she added: “I’m not sure if the message the judge wants to convey is yeah, he’s a creep, but since he’s not violent, it’s cool. That is flat-out terrible and as a woman, I get tired of being told that we just have to excuse unwanted behavior from men.”
Hill finished with a message to women covering Watson: “Sending love to all the women who have to cover this Deshaun Watson ruling today. They’re going to face nonstop abuse from fans who are either upset that his suspension only was 6 games, or thought it should have been longer. Please don’t let these assholes infect your spirit.”
Watson has continually denied all wrongdoing and has said he has no regrets for any of his actions during the massage sessions. In Robinson’s ruling, she noted that one of the aggravating factors in determining Watson’s discipline was his “lack of expressed remorse.”
In the days leading up to Robinson’s decision, the league and Watson’s side engaged in further settlement talks, but neither side ever felt they were close to an agreement.
The league now has a few days to file an appeal.