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Deshaun Watson suspended 11 games, fined $5 million in NFL and union compromise

Pat Leonard, New York Daily News on

Published in Football

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson struck a deal with the NFL to play games in 2022. Then he insisted he was innocent coming off a staged in-house apology last week.

Watson has been suspended for 11 regular-season games and fined $5 million as part of an 11th-hour agreement struck Thursday between the league and NFL Players’ Association, the league announced.

He also must “promptly undergo a professional evaluation by behavioral experts” and “follow their treatment program.”

Still, Watson said in a press conference Thursday that “I’ve always stood on my innocence and always said I’ve never assaulted anyone or disrespected anyone, and I’m continuing to stand on that.”

He said this despite Judge Sue Robinson saying Watson’s pattern of conduct, in rampant alleged sexual assaults, had been “more egregious than any before reviewed by the NFL.”

This comes after Watson had told a Browns team reporter last week that, “I’m truly sorry to all the women that I’ve impacted in this situation” and “my decisions that I made in my life that put me in this position I would definitely like to have back.”

 

David Mulugheta, Watson’s agent at Athletes First, deleted his own tweet that read: “To be clear, Judge Robinson repeated the NFL’s narrative. She received a brief from the NFL weeks before we had the opportunity to talk to her. In our 1st call with the Judge she referred to ‘Deshaun’s pattern of behavior’. Her mind was made up before we ever presented a counter.”

After deleting that tweet, Mulugheta tweeted: “Deshaun has always stated he is innocent of sexual assault. Nothing has changed in what he said. He also said he is remorseful, the decisions he made have created this situation. The settlement allows him to move forward with his life and career.”

The bottom line: Watson and his camp are splitting hairs between an apology and admission of guilt here that is difficult for the general public to stomach or process as valid. Yet he will play football this season all the same.

Head coach Kevin Stefanski, who played Watson in the Browns’ preseason opener, said he won’t put Watson on the field the rest of the preseason.

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