NFL hits Deshaun Watson with 11-game suspension and m fine after sexual misconduct allegations |  NFL

NFL hits Deshaun Watson with 11-game suspension and $5m fine after sexual misconduct allegations | NFL

Deshaun Watson has been fined $5 million and suspended for 11 games after a settlement was reached between the NFL and the league’s players’ union over the player’s future.

The Cleveland Browns quarterback was suspended six games earlier this month by an independent judge following sexual assault allegations involving more than two dozen women. The NFL wanted a longer suspension and appealed, and the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, said the quarterback had shown “predatory behavior.”

On Thursday, Goodell said he was satisfied Watson could return to the NFL after serving his suspension.

“Deshaun has committed to doing the hard work on himself necessary for his return to the NFL,” Goodell said. “This settlement requires compliance with a professional evaluation and treatment plan, a substantial fine and a more substantial suspension.”

Watson has denied any wrongdoing, and grand juries declined to indict him on criminal charges for the allegations of sexual misconduct, which involved female massage therapists. He has so far settled with 23 of the women who have filed lawsuits against him. Last week, Watson issued an apology to the women involved.

“I am grateful that the disciplinary process has ended and I am extremely grateful for the tremendous support I have received throughout my short time with the Browns organization,” Watson said in a statement released by the Browns on Thursday. “I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused. I take responsibility for the decisions I have made. My focus going forward is to work to become the best version of myself on and off the field and support my teammates in any way possible while I’m away from the team. I am excited about what the future holds for me in Cleveland.”

The NFL says $5 million will go to “non-profit organizations across the country that educate young people about healthy relationships, promote education and prevention of sexual assault and abuse, support survivors and related causes.” The Browns and the NFL will also contribute an additional $1 million each to the organizations.

The 11-game suspension means Watson will be available to return for the Browns’ game against his former team, the Houston Texans. Watson requested a trade away from Texas and sat out the entire 2021 season as he settled his grievances with the team and dealt with his legal issues.

The 26-year-old is one of the most talented players in the league, and several teams were interested in trading for him, despite the serious allegations against him. Watson eventually joined the Browns, where he signed a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract. In May, two of the women who accused the quarterback of sexual assault said they were offended by the sums involved in his contract.

“It’s just like a big screw for you,” Ashley Solis told HBO’s Real Sports. “That’s how it feels. That we don’t care. He can run and throw, and that’s what we care about.”

Watson struggled in his preseason game against the Jaguars, completing just one of five passes for seven yards. He was also subjected to hostile chants from Jaguars fans throughout the performance.

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