Deshaun Watson started the Cleveland Browns’ preseason opener versus the Jacksonville Jaguars, however he won’t be available for at least the AFC North team’s first six games of the 2022 regular season.
That’s because Sue L. Robinson, an independent arbitrator and disciplinary officer appointed by the NFL, handed the Pro Bowl quarterback a six-game suspension after 24 civil lawsuits accused him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions while he was with the Houston Texans. It’s something Watson is now expressing his remorse for.
"I'm truly sorry to all the women that I've impacted in this situation," he told CBS Sports reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala prior to taking the field in Jacksonville. "My decisions that I made in my life that put me in this position, I would definitely like to have back. I want to continue to move forward and grow and learn and show that I am a true person of character. I want to keep pushing forward."
The NFL has since appealed Robinson’s ruling, as is their right in the CBA, and is reportedly seeking a year-long ban.
"I know I have a lot of work to put in, especially on the field to make sure I'm ready to play whenever that time comes whenever I can step back on the field," Watson said when asked how he'd spend his suspension time. "The biggest thing is I want to continue counseling. I want to make sure I'm growing as a person, as an individual for my decision-making on and off the field.
“I want to make sure that I am evolving in the community as much as possible. And that's for the Cleveland community, that's for the NFL community and beyond,” Watson said.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called Watson’s actions “egregious” and said he represented “predatory behavior” during a special league meeting in Minneapolis while explaining the league’s decision to push for a longer suspension.
Additionally, the Associated Press reports that Watson would accept an eight-game suspension and a $5 million fine if the league were able to settle. That seems unlikely as the NFL is looking to suspend the quarterback for longer than that.