CHRIS MOORE — NFL has obligation to do more with Watson case

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, August 3, 2022

An arbitrator for the NFL announced that embattled quarterback Deshaun Watson will receive a six-game suspension for alleged sexual assault with more than two dozen massage therapist.

Many have pointed out the discrepancy between Watson’s punishment and the suspensions handed to other players for objectively less vile offenses.

Watson’s defenders point to the fact that the quarterback’s cases went before two grand juries and came back with no criminal charges. He also settled civil lawsuits with all but four of the accusers. That shouldn’t stop us from looking at the facts we have after the suspension.

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The NFL held their own investigation and believed Watson was guilty of sexual assault, conduct that poses a genuine danger to the safety and well-being of another person and conduct that undermines the integrity of the league. All three are punishable by the NFL.

In the 15-page decision handed down by retired federal judge Sue L. Robinson, who is working as an arbiter between the NFL and NFL Players Association, she stipulated that Watson must only use team massage therapist. That is quite an odd stipulation for an innocent person. There is also the presence of any suspension means acknowledgment of wrongdoing.

Reports indicate the NFL was aiming for an indefinite suspension for Watson. In previous interviews, Watson and the Browns, the team for which he now plays, claim the quarterback did nothing wrong. When asked if he would seek psychological help, Watson said he would not, because he claimed he did not need it.

This seems like a perfect storm for this to happen again. He does not think he did anything wrong, despite an arbiter putting in stipulations to prevent it from happening again and he was awarded the first fully guaranteed contract in the league’s history in a five-year, $230 million deal.

The contract was even worked in such a way that Watson would only make $1 million in his first year to avoid any large financial loss from any suspension he might see.

Now the NFL must decide how to move forward. It would appear as though the best public relations move would be to appeal the suspension and try to get more games added. The move would at least give the appearance of concern for the victims. But the NFLPA would likely point to the owners’ record of sexual misconduct. It seems like the owners who run the league might be all too comfortable with letting this just go away and pray that Watson doesn’t get in any more trouble.

All fans can do right now is express pure disgust at the proceedings but the owners are banking on all to be forgotten once the Rams and Bills kickoff the season. One highlight play will completely erase the controversies like it always has.

 

Chris Moore is the sports editor for Port Arthur Newsmedia. He can be reached at chris.moore@panews.com.