Deshaun Watson Disciplinary Ruling Decided: Report
By Jason Hall
August 1, 2022
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will reportedly serve a six-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy following a ruling made by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson, a source with knowledge of the decision confirmed to ESPN's Adam Schefter on Monday (August 1).
The source told Schefter that Watson wasn't fined as part of the disciplinary ruling.
The NFL Players Union confirmed it planned to "stand by" Robinson's ruling on Sunday (July 31) night and urged the NFL to do the same, rather than either side submitting an appeal in writing, which would have been permitted within three days of the ruling.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that the NFL only presented five of the 20 civil lawsuits to Robinson before a decision was made.
Watson has been accused of sexual assault and inappropriate conduct in civil lawsuits filed by 25 women, all of which is reported to have taken place during massage sessions in the Houston area between March 2020 and March 2021 during his tenure with the Houston Texans.
A judge ruled to drop one of the 25 lawsuits in April after ruling that plaintiffs needed to amend their petitions to disclose their names, ESPN reports.
Last month, the Texans reached confidential settlements with the 30 women made claims or prepared to against the team's former quarterback, the plaintiffs' attorney, Tony Buzbee, announced in a statement obtained by NFL.com on July 15.
In June, Buzbee announced that 20 of the then-24 civil lawsuits against Watson were settled in a statement shared on June 21.
"The cases against Deshaun Watson started with one phone call, from one brave and strong woman. That woman was Ashley Solis," Buzbee said. "At the time of that call she was just one of the hundreds of calls seeking legal assistance that our firm gets weekly. Even though she was originally turned away by our screening process, my staff insisted that I personally speak with her. I'm glad she persisted. Once we took a second look, and after having contact with Watson's original lawyer who disrespected Ashley and her profession and who arrogantly minimized the conduct of someone he referred to as an 'asset,' I was convinced that our law firm should try to help her. As a result of Ashley's lone but brave voice, soon many women who had allegedly experienced the same conduct were emboldened to step forward. I am incredibly proud to represent them all"
Watson also reportedly agreed to settle three of the remaining four lawsuits on Monday, according to Buzbee via ESPN.
Watson faced 24 civil lawsuits from women accusing him of inappropriate sexual conduct during massage sessions, however, two Texas grand juries declined to indict him on criminal charges and the quarterback has maintained his innocence throughout the legal process.
In March, Schefter reported Watson chose to play for the Browns and waived his no-trade clause ahead of an agreed deal between the Browns and the Houston Texans.
Deshaun Watson has decided he wants to play for the Cleveland Browns in a stunning change of events, per sources. Watson has informed the Houston Texans that he now is willing to waive the no-trade clause in his contract to be dealt to Cleveland.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 18, 2022
The Browns were initially informed that they were out of the running for Watson on March 17, according to multiple reports.
"Deshaun Watson has decided he wants to play for the Cleveland Browns in a stunning change of events, per sources," Schefter tweeted on March 18. "Watson has informed the Houston Texans that he now is willing to waive the no-trade clause in his contract to be dealt to Cleveland."
The former Clemson standout requested a trade from the Texans prior to the allegations surfacing and later being ruled out of every game during the 2021 season for "non-injury reasons/personal matter," though never specifically being suspended or placed on any reserve list.