Deshaun Watson, by settling down and getting coaching, is showing the NFL he’s willing to get the job done: Browns Takeaways

Deshaun Watson, by settling down and getting coaching, is showing the NFL he’s willing to get the job done: Browns Takeaways

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Over the past two weeks, Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has shown the NFL that he’s willing to work through his off-field struggles and resume his NFL career.

If the league sees enough effort and willingness on Watson’s part, it could be a mitigating factor in his discipline, which could pass in the next week or two. Under the collectively bargained Personal Conduct Policy, the NFL will take into account a player’s actions after the alleged misconduct.

“In determining discipline, both aggravating and mitigating factors may be considered,” the policy says. “Reference may also be made to requirements to seek ongoing advice, treatment or therapy where appropriate, as well as the imposition of enhanced supervision, which if satisfactorily met would serve to mitigate discipline otherwise imposed.”

Last week, Watson acknowledged for the first time that he is seeking counseling after more than 24 massage therapists accused him of sexual misconduct during dates, mainly in 2020 and 2021.

On Tuesday, he reached confidential settlements in 20 of the 24 civil lawsuits against him and is prepared to try to clear his name in the other four cases if it comes to that.

“It’s been a long year and a half, I can tell you that,” Watson said last week during mandatory minicamp. “Personally, it’s been tough. And since I came here and since I became the Cleveland Brown, I’ve been able to use all the resources that this organization has. I was able to start using counseling and talking to someone just to make sure my mind is in order so I can be prepared to walk in this field and be as sharp as possible.

“And I’m going to continue to do that, be the best person and grow as an individual, grow as a human being, and just be able to be the best citizen, the best person that I can be outside of this field, and also when I walk out of this building, I know the best teammate and player you can be.”

The deals came a week after Watson repeated that he didn’t want to do it.

“I just want to clear my name and be able to let the facts and the legal proceedings continue,” he said last week.

Finally, he decided that it was the best way to start moving forward.

The decision to seek counseling also departed from his introductory press conference on March 25, in which he said he didn’t need it because he hadn’t done anything wrong. Whether he believes he is innocent or not, Watson should benefit from therapy and could have an impact on the NFL’s decision.

Following the 20 settlements announced Tuesday by plaintiffs’ attorney Tony Buzbee, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement: “Today’s development has no impact on the collectively bargained disciplinary process.”

But if the NFL sees Watson taking another step forward and making restitution even though he was determined to clear his name, he might be viewed favorably.

If nothing else, Watson is getting help, and if his accusers need help dealing with the fallout from their encounters with him, they now have the resources to get it, too. And now, neither Watson nor 20 of his accusers will have to wait years for a resolution.

Whats Next

The next big step in the process is for former US District Judge Sue L. Robinson, the NFL’s and NFLPA’s jointly appointed disciplinary officer, to determine the length of Watson’s suspension. A league source has confirmed to cleveland.com that the NFL Players Association is bracing for an “unprecedented” punishment, which could mean a one-year suspension, and it seems a foregone conclusion that the league will take one away from him. significant number of games. .

But the NFLPA is gearing up for a fight, and will argue that the league didn’t come down hard on NFL owners Robert Kraft, Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder for alleged misconduct by themselves or their organizations.

While the NFL could begin by suspending him for a year, the NFLPA plans to argue that he was not suspended based in part on the fact that there is no evidence that Watson committed wrongdoing and that two separate grand juries declined to indict him on criminal charges.

But just as non-indictments did not mean he was innocent, the plea deals are not an admission of guilt. Watson maintains that he hasn’t done anything wrong, but he felt it was time to put most of the cases behind him as a minor distraction for the Browns, their fans and their players.

Again, if Watson has to face four trials, he will see it as an opportunity to voice his opinion in court and clear his name.

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NFL lead investigator Lisa Friel came close to concluding the investigation on May 24 and has spoken with Watson twice for a total of four days.

Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, told cleveland.com that the NFL had completed its interviews with Watson, even though a 24th lawsuit was subsequently filed and the new accusers first spoke with Jenny Vrentas of The New York. Times.

Usually when the NFL talks to the accused, discipline is not far behind. Some expect it to arrive next week, but it could be as soon as this week. Friel then makes a recommendation to Robinson, who may request a hearing or more information before making a determination.

According to the policy, “depending on the nature of the infraction and the player’s history, the discipline may be a fine, suspension for a fixed or indefinite period of time, a combination of the two, or expulsion from the league. with the opportunity to reapply Discipline may also include a probationary period and conditions that must be met for reinstatement and remain eligible to participate.”

If the Watson camp disagrees with the ruling, they will appeal to Goodell, whose word will be final.

How much did he settle for?

The settlements were confidential, but a note in the 23rd civil lawsuit states that “we are aware that Deshaun Watson offered each plaintiff $100,000 to settle their cases, but not all accepted that amount, due to the aggressive confidentiality agreement Watson’s team proposed. . ”

Hardin likely again insisted on nondisclosure agreements, and the amount of the agreements could vary.

The other plaintiffs, one of whom is Ashley Solis, the first to come forward and one of two interviewed by Soledad O’Brien for HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” are hoping for more money or are determined to go to trial.

It is not yet known if Buzbee still plans to file the other two civil lawsuits he said he intended to file, or if he will still add the Texans as defendants.

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