Aug 18, 2022 - Sports

Deshaun Watson reaches deal with NFL for 11-game suspension

Deshaun Watson #4 of the Cleveland Browns takes off his helmet as he warms up during the Cleveland Browns.
Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns. Photo: Nick Cammett/Getty Images

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has reached an agreement with the NFL to serve an 11-game suspension, the NFL said Thursday.

Driving the news: The agreement includes a $5 million fine for Watson that will go to charity.

  • Watson will also "undergo a professional evaluation by behavioral experts" and must commit to a mandatory treatment program, per the NFL.
  • The NFL said the league and the Browns will also donate an additional $1 million each to support victims of sexual misconduct and assault, bringing the total in donations to $7 million.
  • The NFL and Cleveland Browns did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.
  • The NFL Players Association declined to comment.

What they're saying: "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 a statement. "This settlement requires compliance with a professional evaluation and treatment plan, a significant fine, and a more substantial suspension."

The Cleveland Browns said in a statement posted to Twitter that the decision "is a real opportunity to create meaningful change" and raise awareness about sexual misconduct.

  • "Since Deshaun entered our building, he has been an outstanding member of our organization and shown a true dedication to working on himself both on and off the field," the organization said on Twitter. "We will continue to support him as he focuses on earning the trust of our community."

Watson said in a statement posted on the Browns' Twitter feed that he was "extremely appreciative" of the disciplinary process.

  • "I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused. I take accountability for the decisions I made," he continued.

Scott Berkowitz, president of the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network, criticized Watson in a statement emailed to Axios.

  • "Deshaun Watson had a chance to show he could change, and he immediately blew it," he said. "His comments to the media make clear that he doesn’t really accept any responsibility for his actions, and that he still doesn’t understand how much harm he caused, or the impact on the dozens of survivors he hurt."

The big picture: The settlement agreement comes after the NFL appealed Watson's original suspension of six games set by an arbitrator, hoping for a longer one.

  • Watson, who has been accused of sexual abuse by two dozen women, violated the league's personal conduct policy.
  • Disciplinary officer and former federal judge Sue Robinson said in the original ruling that Watson had a "lack of expressed remorse," Axios' Sareen Habeshian writes.
  • Watson apologized to "all of the women I have impacted in this situation" in an interview shared by the Cleveland Browns.

Worth noting: Watson will be eligible to make his debut during Week 13 of the NFL season (the Browns have a bye on Week 9).

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a response from the NFL Players Association.

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