Deshaun Watson, by settling in and getting advice, shows NFL he’s ready 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 ready to put in the work to get out of his off-field troubles and get his NFL career back.

If the league sees enough effort and willpower from Watson, that could be a mitigating factor in his discipline, which could be pronounced in the next week or two. Under the collectively negotiated personal conduct policy, the NFL will consider a player’s actions as a result of the alleged wrongdoing.

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

Last week, Watson admitted for the first time that he was seeking advice following more than 24 female massage therapists accusing him of sexual misconduct on dates, mostly in 2020 and 2021.

As of 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 should that happen.

“It’s been a long year and a half, I can say that,” Watson said last week during the mandatory minicamp. “Personally, it was tough. And since I came here and became a Cleveland Brown, I’ve been able to use all the resources that this organization has. I was able to start using guidance and talking with someone just to make sure my mind is straight and I can be ready to walk that ground 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 be able to be the best citizen, the best person that I can be outside of this. field, and also when I step out of this building, be the best teammate and player I can be.”

The settlements came a week after Watson repeated he did not want to do so.

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

In the end, he decided that was the best way to start moving forward.

The decision to seek advice was also a departure from his March 25 introductory press conference, during which he said he didn’t need it because he had done nothing wrong. . Whether he thinks he’s innocent or not, Watson should get therapy, and that could impact 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 process. collectively negotiated disciplinary action”.

But if the NFL sees Watson taking a step closer to making restitution even though he was determined to clear his name, perhaps that will be viewed favorably.

At the very least, Watson is getting help, and if his accusers need help dealing with the consequences of 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.

And after

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

But the NFLPA is preparing for a fight and will argue that the league did not harshly criticize NFL owners Robert Kraft, Jerry Jones and Daniel Snyder for alleged misconduct by them or those of their organizations.

While the NFL could begin by suspending him for a year, the NFLPA plans to argue for no suspension based in part on the fact that there is no evidence that Watson engaged in wrongdoing and that two grand juries separate declined to indict him on criminal charges.

But just as no indictments did not mean he was innocent, settlements are not an admission of guilt. Watson maintains he did nothing wrong, but felt it was time to put the heavy lifting behind him so it would be less of a distraction for the Browns, their fans and their players.

Again, if Watson faces four trials, he will see it as a chance to have his say in court and clear his name.

What is the deadline

NFL lead investigator Lisa Friel was close to wrapping up the investigation on May 24 and spoke to Watson twice for a total of four days.

Watson’s attorney Rusty Hardin told cleveland.com that the NFL has completed talks with Watson, although a 24th complaint was subsequently filed and new accusers spoke to Jenny Vrentas for the first time. from the New York Times.

Typically, when the NFL talks to the accused, discipline isn’t far behind. Some expect him to come next week, but it could be as early as this week. Friel then makes a recommendation to Robinson, who may request a hearing or more information before making a decision.

According to the policy, “depending on the nature of the violation and the player’s record, discipline may be a fine, a fixed or indefinite suspension, a combination of the two, or banishment from the league with possibility to reapply. discipline may also include a probationary period and conditions that must be met for reinstatement and to remain eligible to participate.

If Watson’s side disagree with the decision, they will appeal to Goodell, whose word will be final.

How satisfied was he?

The settlements were confidential, but a note in the 23rd civil suit states that “we know that Deshaun Watson offered each plaintiff $100,000 to settle their cases, but not all would accept this amount, due to the agreement of aggressive non-disclosure proposed by Watson’s team.’

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

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

It’s not yet known if Buzbee still plans to file the other two civil lawsuits he said he intends to file, or if he will still add the Texans as a defendant.

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