The NFL used to go all-in with pink each October to fight breast cancer.
The rest of the year, women just get in the way.
Deshaun Watson, the NFLPA and NFL Thursday announced, the $230 million Cleveland Browns quarterback accepted an 11-game suspension this season for doing … something.
Watson was sued by 25 women who claimed he sexually assaulted them and/or committed other inappropriate actions during massage and therapy sessions. These attacks allegedly took place while he was playing for the Houston Texans from March 2020-March 2021. Watson settled all but one of the suits filed against him. The Texans settled another 30 civil suits. Watson agreed to a compromise deal that sidelines him until Nov. 28, cost him a $5 million fine and mandates NFL-monitored behavioral therapy.
And get this. Watson’s contract is worth $230 million, but his base salary for this season was just $1 million. So he and the Browns took all the necessary financial precautions to limit the damage on his side months ago. He’ll be out $650,000 in salary this year plus the above fine.
Watson gave an anti-apology in a statement saying “I apologize for any pain this situation has caused. I take accountability for the decisions I made.”
But he did nothing wrong. Just ask him.
“I’ll continue to stand on my innocence, just because you know settlements, and things like that happen doesn’t mean that a person is guilty for anything. I feel like a person has an opportunity to stand on his innocence and prove that, and we proved that from a legal side, and just going to continue to push forward as an individual and as a person,” he later said when speaking to reporters.
Browns ownership couldn’t wait to join the PR immolation ceremony. A statement by Dee and Jimmy Haslam said this as a “real opportunity to create meaningful change.”
Again, change from what? Watson did nothing wrong. (According to Watson).
“Is he never supposed to play again? Is he never supposed to be part of society? Does he get no chance to rehabilitate himself? Well that’s what we’re going to do,” Jimmy Haslam said to reporters. “We believe he deserves a second chance.”
Fine. But rehabilitate himself from what?
“It’s important to remember Deshaun is 26 years old. And he’s a high-level NFL quarterback,” Haslam added.
26 has become the new 13.
Watson said he wants to tell his side of the story someday. We’d all love to hear it.
Two grand juries declined in Texas to prosecute him on criminal charges.
This is clearly a case of he said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, etc.
(Space is limited)
Until Watson is eligible to return Nov. 28 against the Texans, Cleveland’s QB 1 is Jacoby Brissett. The former Patriots QB was one-third of the infamous “Wolfpack” with Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo. When Brady missed the four games of the 2016 season due to his Deflategate suspension, Brissett ended up replacing the injured Garoppolo in Week 2 and starting the next two games.
(It always comes back to Deflategate, doesn’t it?)
Deflategate set a standard for a lack of standards when it comes to dispensing NFL Justice. Thursday’s news just widened an already gaping chasm of Clown Car Punishment coming from 345 Park Avenue during the past decade.
The NFL may be the most litigious private organization on the planet. But when it comes to the big stuff, Goodell and Friends wing it as if they were facing a 4th-and-98 with four seconds left on the clock.
Follow the science and smash your cellphone so nude snaps of Gisele won’t end up on TMZ?
Slug your girlfriend in an elevator?
Anywhere between 2 games and the rest of your life.
Plead guilty to manslaughter after driving drunk?
Clobber Mason Rudolph with your helmet during a game?
Conspire to steal Brady from the Patriots and Buccaneers?
Bet on an NFL game while you’re rehabbing in Florida?
At least one year.
Just so we know where the NFL’s priorities really lie.
Imagine if Tom Brady inflated his balls with cannabis smoke and bet the under on Super Bowl 56?
He would have been suspended through Jack Brady’s 10th season.
An investigation by retired federal judge Susan Robinson (she is no Ted Wells) found the “NFL carried its burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Mr. Watson engaged in sexual assault (as defined by the NFL) against the four therapists identified in the Report.”
Robinson ordered that Watson be suspended for six games but not fined. Her punishment was universally panned. Goodell smelled PR trouble and demanded Watson sit for a year.
It may have been the closest Goodell has ever been to being right.
This decision is a compromise for all involved – save for the women allegedly sexual attacked by Watson. Nearly all opted to settle. But don’t call that justice.
“The message today to all victims is clear, if you believe you have been sexually assaulted by a powerful person, keep your mouth shut and go away,” said attorney Tony Buzbee Thursday. He represents many of Watson’s accusers. “The NFL has certainly demonstrated that its ownership and the organization doesn’t care. To all sexual assault survivors, do not allow this recent ‘punishment’ to deter you. Keep speaking up and keep speaking out. Your voice matters.”
The NFL replaced that pink breast cancer awareness campaign with something called “Crucial Catch.”
But it once again dropped the ball in the case of Watson.
Even if he did nothing wrong.
Bill Speros (@RealOBF) can be reached at [email protected]
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