CLEVELAND, Ohio – Now, the Browns wait for the NFL to rule in the Deshaun Watson case.
And with most of the civil lawsuits by massage therapists settled by Watson and his lawyers, one big problem should no longer be a possibility.
That would have been placing the QB on paid leave for the entire 2022 season, then awaiting how the courts would rule in the 24 lawsuits facing Watson.
Yes, that could have led to a suspension for part or all of 2023.
Now it’s likely that whatever the NFL does, it will be held to the 2022 season. Then Watson should be able to play in 2023, unless the league comes up with a stunning multiyear suspension.
There are still four lawsuits pending. But now that 20 have settled, that should set up the financial parameters to work out a deal taking care of those civil suits.
For the Browns, this has to be a relief. It would appear the worst-case scenario is over. Also, the nightmarish public relations battle over Watson’s conduct should be calmed down.
It is worth mentioning that Watson’s insistence on how he wanted to “clear my name” and didn’t plan to settle the lawsuits was nothing more than posturing. He had offered to settle a number of the suits a year ago.
So none of this was really about clearing his name. It was about making a deal – for both sides.
There will be people who say, “The civil suits are settled. There are no criminal charges. Let’s play ball.”
But most of the players suspended by the NFL weren’t criminally charged. That includes Kareem Hunt (eight games for a physical altercation with a woman) and Myles Garrett (six games for hitting Mason Rudolph in the head with a helmet during a game).
Tom Brady was suspended four games for deflating footballs. Receiver Calvin Ridley is suspended for all of 2022 for betting on football games.
No criminal charges in any of these examples.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Watson settling 20 cases “has no impact on the collectively bargained disciplinary process.”
It’s hard to guess what the NFL will do. There are reports about Watson facing a severe penalty. And reports of the players union fighting hard to defend him, citing the improper conduct of some owners and the light penalties they received.
The league also must look into the actions of the Houston Texans, who reportedly supplied Watson with hotel rooms and Non-Disclosure Agreements to be given to the therapists when they met with Watson.
This is an ugly case on several fronts, not just Watson’s actions.
But for now, the NFL should be able to come up with a decision regarding Watson’s possible suspension. And that should happen soon.
For the Browns, Watson and the NFL, that should be good news. All sides need clarity in terms of what comes next.
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