In 2018, Jameis Winston was suspended three games for groping a female Uber driver inappropriately. One driver. Once.
In 2022, Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson reportedly will be suspended only six games for allegedly inappropriate sexual behavior toward at least 24 female massage therapists over a 12-month span, from March 2020 to March 2021, when he played for the Houston Texans. Twenty-four times as many women, 365 times as many days lapsed, but just twice as many games suspended.
He allegedly exposed his genitals. He allegedly forced more than one therapist to perform oral sex. The NFL’s disciplinary officer said Watson engaged in a pattern of “nonviolent sexual conduct.”
He was not accused of sexual conduct. He was accused of sexual misconduct.
Just ask the 24 women, whose lives will never be the same.
Six games. No fine.
Watson should have lost a full season. He should have lost $10.54 million, which is what he earned in Houston last year while refusing to play.
What do you expect from a league whose marquee owner, serial Patriots cheater Robert Kraft, was caught in a massage-parlor sting in Florida, allegedly, on video, in 2019, and received no disciplinary action from commissioner Roger Goodell?
Retired federal Judge Sue L. Robinson, a graduate of the University of Delaware and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, is the NFL’s disciplinary officer, agreed upon and paid for by the NFL and the NFL Players Association. This was her first case.
Reports say that Robinson determined that Watson did, in fact, violate the league’s personal conduct policy. And she specified that Watson may not get any massages from anyone other than team-affiliated therapists. This alone indicates that Robinson considers Watson incapable of proper behavior: that his “pattern of behavior was egregious,” according to Robinson.
The suspension mirrors those imposed for first-time domestic violence, such as the 2017 suspensions of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and former Giants kicker Josh Brown and the 2021 suspension of former Washington running back Derrius Guice.
In a June hearing, the NFL asked Robinson to suspend Watson for the entire 2022 season with a minimum $5 million fine.
Watson signed a five-year, guaranteed $230 million contract when the Texans traded him to Cleveland in March. As it stands, the suspension will cost Watson just $345,000 of his $1.035 million 2022 salary. That salary was minimized during contract negotiations to mitigate the effect any suspension might have. In the parlance of Phillies anti-vaxxer J.T. Realmuto, 345K is “a little bit of money.” Realmuto lost $260,000 of his $115.5 million contract when he was unable to play two games in Canada, or 0.22%. Watson will lose 0.15%.
A very, very little bit of money.
Two grand juries in Texas last year refused to indict Watson on charges brought by 10 of the women, but criminal cases are much more difficult to prove, and, come on; it’s Texas. That left 24 lawsuits. He has settled 23 of them. The Texans last month settled the 30 lawsuits brought against them for their role in Watson’s behavior.
He denies all wrongdoing.
“I never assaulted anyone. I never harassed anyone or I never disrespected anyone. I never forced anyone to do anything,” Watson claimed June 14, less than a week after the New York Times reported that he’d met with 66 massage therapists in a 17-month span, often with the Texans’ help.
Watson won’t do any jail time, but that doesn’t mean he’s innocent.
Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for four games in 2010 after a second woman in two years accused him of sexual assault. Watson was accused by 12 times as many women.
Tom Brady, as a result of Deflategate in 2015, was ultimately suspended for four games in 2016, essentially destroying his cellphone. So, obstruction of justice: Four games. Disgusting, serial predation: 33% more.
The NFL has at least three days to appeal the ruling. Goodell still has the final say, and yes, he can increase the penalty. But Watson is a top-five quarterback, and Cleveland is a big-time football town, and Goodell’s job is not to dilute the product on the field. As he’s shown in his 16 years as commissioner, he has little inclination toward doing the right thing.
He won’t let this linger. The league and the NFLPA agreed to this process in 2020 to remove the appearance of Goodell’s imperial reign. This is the first ruling by the disciplinary officer. Negating the decision would again cast the NFL as an unfair arbiter, and Watson, who has said he will not appeal the six-game ban, could challenge any supplemental discipline in court.
So, no, it’s probably over.
Once again, the NFL and its agents have diminished sexual misconduct. Once again, the NFL has empowered alleged sexual predators. Once again, the NFL has further diminished a woman’s right to protection, and safety, and decency.
Once again, the NFL has laid a slap on the wrist on a man, a franchise, and a league that deserved to be kicked in the gut.
Every Super Bowl MVP since 1967
As Super Bowl LIII approaches, PointAfter, a sports data site powered by Graphiq, looks back at the history of the award to highlight the winner from each season.
There are 21 Super Bowl MVP winners currently in the Hall of Fame, with future locks (like Tom Brady, Ray Lewis and Aaron Rodgers) to follow. Brady is one of five players to win the award multiple times, along with Bart Starr (twice), Terry Bradshaw (twice), Joe Montana (three times) and Eli Manning (twice).
#1. Super Bowl I: QB Bart Starr, Green Bay Packers
Game score: Packers 35, Chiefs 10
Game stats: 16/23, 250 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
#2. Super Bowl II: QB Bart Starr, Green Bay Packers
Game score: Packers 33, Raiders 14
Game stats: 13/24, 202 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
#3. Super Bowl III: QB Joe Namath, New York Jets
Game score: Jets 16, Colts 7
Game stats: 17/28, 206 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
#4. Super Bowl IV: QB Len Dawson, Kansas City Chiefs
Game score: Chiefs 23, Vikings 7
Game stats: 12/17, 142 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
#5. Super Bowl V: LB Chuck Howley, Dallas Cowboys
Game score: Colts 16, Cowboys 13
Game stats: 2 interceptions, 22 yards
#6. Super Bowl VI: QB Roger Staubach, Dallas Cowboys
Game score: Cowboys 24, Dolphins 3
Game stats: 12/19, 119 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
#7. Super Bowl VII: S Jake Scott, Miami Dolphins
Game score: Dolphins 14, Redskins 7
Game stats: 2 interceptions, 63 yards
#8. Super Bowl VIII: RB Larry Csonka, Miami Dolphins
Game score: Dolphins 24, Vikings 7
Game stats: 33 attempts, 145 yards, 2 TD
#9. Super Bowl IX: RB Franco Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers
Game score: Steelers 16, Vikings 6
Game stats: 34 attempts, 158 yards, 1 TD
#10. Super Bowl X: WR Lynn Swann, Pittsburgh Steelers
Game score: Steelers 21, Cowboys 17
Game stats: 4 catches, 161 yards, 1 TD
#11. Super Bowl XI: WR Fred Biletnikoff, Oakland Raiders
Game score: Raiders 32, Vikings 14
Game stats: 4 catches, 79 yards
#12. Super Bowl XII: DE Harvey Martin & DT Randy White, Dallas Cowboys
Game score: Cowboys 27, Broncos 10
Martin game stats: 2.0 sacks
White game stats: 1.0 sack
#13. Super Bowl XIII: QB Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh Steelers
Game score: Steelers 35, Cowboys 31
Game stats: 17/30, 318 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT
#14. Super Bowl XIV: QB Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh Steelers
Game score: Steelers 31, Rams 19
Game stats: 14/21, 309 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT
#15. Super Bowl XV: QB Jim Plunkett, Oakland Raiders
Game score: Raiders 27, Eagles 10
Game stats: 13/21, 261 yards, 3 TD
#16. Super Bowl XVI: QB Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers
Game score: 49ers 26, Bengals 21
Game stats: 14/22, 157 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
#17. Super Bowl XVII: RB John Riggins, Washington Redskins
Game score: Redskins 27, Dolphins 17
Game stats: 38 attempts, 166 yards, 1 TD
#18. Super Bowl XVIII: RB Marcus Allen, Los Angeles Raiders
Game score: Raiders 38, Redskins 9
Game stats: 20 attempts, 191 yards, 2 TD
#19. Super Bowl XIX: QB Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers
Game score: 49ers 38, Dolphins 16
Game stats: 24/35, 331 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
#20. Super Bowl XX: DE Richard Dent, Chicago Bears
Game score: Bears 46, Patriots 10
Game stats: 1.5 sacks
#21. Super Bowl XXI: QB Phil Simms, New York Giants
Game score: Giants 39, Broncos 20
Game stats: 22/25, 268 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
#22. Super Bowl XXII: QB Doug Williams, Washington Redskins
Game score: Redskins 42, Broncos 10
Game stats: 18/29, 340 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT
#23. Super Bowl XXIII: WR Jerry Rice, San Francisco 49ers
Game score: 49ers 20, Bengals 16
Game stats: 11 catches, 215 yards, 1 TD
#24. Super Bowl XXIV: QB Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers
Game score: 49ers 55, Broncos 10
Game stats: 22/29, 297 yards, 5 TD, 0 INT
#25. Super Bowl XXV: RB Ottis Anderson, New York Giants
Game score: Giants 20, Bills 19
Game stats: 21 attempts, 102 yards, 1 TD
#26. Super Bowl XXVI: QB Mark Rypien, Washington Redskins
Game score: Redskins 37, Bills 24
Game stats: 18/33, 292 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
#27. Super Bowl XXVII: QB Troy Aikman, Dallas Cowboys
Game score: Cowboys 52, Bills 17
Game stats: 22/30, 273 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT
#28. Super Bowl XXVIII: RB Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys
Game score: Cowboys 30, Bills 13
Game stats: 30 attempts, 132 yards, 2 TD
#29. Super Bowl XXIX: QB Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Derrick Henry has been seen jogging on the field with his daughter after practice. Green Bay Packers are once again borrowing kids' bicycles for rides to practice. Fans are rubbing elbows with their favorite players to get those coveted autographs.
Deshaun Watson (4) of the Cleveland Browns celebrates as he walks onto the field during Cleveland Browns training camp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on July 30, 2022, in Berea, Ohio. (Nick Cammett/Getty Images/TNS)