He won’t play for – at least – the first six weeks of the regular season, but nonetheless, Deshaun Watson is going to get the start in the preseason opener.
The Cleveland Browns announced on Wednesday that their recently suspended $230 million dollar QB will go out with the first team when Cleveland faces Jacksonville on Friday.
The Browns are waiting to see how many more games will be added to the already six-game suspension Watson received from former Federal Judge Sue L. Robinson last week. The NFL launched an appeal of Robinson’s ruling last Wednesday, with the league’s appeal being reviewed by former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey.
The NFL initially offered Watson a 12-game suspension, before the case went before Judge Robinson. However, Watson’s camp refused that offer from the league and elected to go forward with Robinson’s review. Watson and his legal team could come to regret that decision as the league is now seeking a full, season-long suspension.
Despite the leniency in Robinson’s punishment, the former federal judge gave the NFL all the ammunition they needed to launch their appeal. Key findings in her report include the fact that Watson expressed no remorse, and, basically, Robinson didn’t believe him.
As Pro Football Talk reports, on page seven of her 15-page opinion, Judge Robinson notes that Watson “categorically denied the allegations against him, including that he ever developed an erection during a massage.”
Then she follows that up with an exceptionally nicely worded sentence in which she essentially says she doesn’t believe him.
“It is difficult to give weight to a complete denial when weighed against the credible testimony of the investigators who interviewed the therapists and other third parties.”
So, not only is Watson not publicly remorseful, but the judge found his denial of the allegations unbelievable when weighed against the evidence.
As ESPN reports, “On Tuesday, Goodell told reporters that the league is seeking a season-long suspension because the quarterback’s actions were ‘egregious’ and ‘predatory behavior,’ as Robinson noted in her 16-page report. While issuing the six-game suspension, Robinson found that Watson had in sexual assault (as the NFL defines it), conduct posing a danger to the safety and well-being of another person, and conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity of the NFL.”
In other words, Watson may get the start in Friday’s preseason game. But preseason games may be the only games he gets all year.