The upcoming NFL season is already off to a rocky start.
Controversy has engulfed a top player in the league.
And one NFL sex scandal just had a shocking major development.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has been twisting in the wind ever since he was accused of sexual misconduct with two dozen massage therapists he messaged through Instagram.
Watson sat out the entire 2021-22 season because he requested a trade, and the Houston Texans were not eager to play him with multiple felonies hanging over his head.
A grand jury chose not to indict Watson on criminal charges, which gave teams the green light to pursue him.
Watson was traded to the Browns where he signed a $230 million contract, but he still had to settle the civil cases, and deal with a potential suspension from the league.
The NFL allowed a mediator to determine Watson’s fate, and Judge Sue Robinson handed down a six-game suspension.
However, the league—seemingly responding to external pressure—appealed her ruling because Commissioner Roger Goodell wants Watson suspended for more games.
From The Athletic:
“The NFL will appeal the six-game suspension handed to Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson…The league is seeking an indefinite suspension that would last a minimum of one year, a source told The Athletic…In a 15-page decision released by Robinson, the judge wrote that 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.’ The NFL had recommended Watson be suspended for the 2022 season and not permitted to return unless he satisfies conditions imposed for reinstatement. But Robinson wrote, in justification of her decision, that the league ‘is attempting to impose a more dramatic shift in its culture without the benefit of fair notice to — and consistency of consequence for — those in the NFL subject to the (personal conduct) policy.’”
In the past, the NFL has been hammered for being too lenient on players who have been accused of sexual impropriety of some sort.
The most glaring example was when the league gave former running back Ray Rice a slap on the wrist for domestic violence.
Then surveillance video of the incident leaked, and it showed Rice brutally beating his wife on a public elevator.
Prior to the Watson saga, the NFL would’ve jumped at the chance to wrap up the legal drama surrounding one of its top players.
But the court of public opinion has become much more potent.
Some in the corporate press have called for Watson to be flat-out banned from the league forever.
Watson was not charged with any crimes, but the rabble in the sports media wants Watson stitched up for as long as possible.
If the NFL wins its appeal and Watson gets at least a one-year suspension, he will have missed two years of his prime, which is wild for a star quarterback.