After new Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of female massage therapists, it has seemed almost certain that the NFL would suspend him for the 2022 season.
Many have feared he will be given a lengthy suspension, possibly for the entire year, or even longer.
The Browns were likely hoping a decision on his discipline would come before training camp, but that decision may have to wait.
On Tuesday, Tony Rizzo cited “reliable sources” when he said that Watson may not be suspended for even half of the season.
— ESPN Cleveland (@ESPNCleveland) July 12, 2022
If that’s indeed what happens, Cleveland would be dodging a bullet, and its playoff hopes could survive, depending on which games Watson has to miss and how the team does without him.
But if Watson receives anything less than a suspension that lasts the entire season, many people, especially outside of Northeast Ohio, will be very upset.
The Watson Saga Has Cast A Dark Cloud Over The Browns And Their Fans
Shortly after a grand jury declined to not move forward with criminal charges against Watson, the Browns traded for him, giving them their most talented quarterback in many decades.
With what appears to be a competitive team around him, including another big acquisition in four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper, Watson should have the ability to take the Browns to the playoffs for only the third time this century.
However, his off-the-field situation has served as a wedge that has divided the team’s devoted and passionate fanbase.
Many are irate that the Browns went after a man who has been accused of such perverted acts, but there is also a sizable contingent of fans who consider the charges to be nothing more than a witch hunt and a cash grab for the alleged victims and their legal counsel.
If Deshaun Watson sees a suspension of just 4-6 games. Burn the whole institution down. You can’t tell me Calvin Ridley deserves to be banned from the league longer.
— Brandon Murchison (@RotoSuperstar) July 12, 2022
If the rumors are true that Deshaun Watson is getting just a 4-6 game suspension after they suspended Calvin Ridley an entire year for making bets, Roger Goodell should be fired / resign on the spot. Absurd.
— ACL-Sports.com®–Sports Investor (@TheRealMrACL) July 13, 2022
**No evidence of violence, threat, force, or coercion by Deshaun Watson**
NFL: “Yea, we’re still goinna give him a suspension”
— Tré Jones (@tjones_05) July 7, 2022
I swear if Deshaun Watson gets 4-6 games, then Calvin Ridley deserves his suspension to be removed
— Patrick Kinman (@Patchman513) July 12, 2022
Deshaun Watson with a 6-game suspension should be drafted ahead of Trey Lance in fantasy football.
— Dave Kluge (@DaveKluge) July 12, 2022
how can they suspend deshaun watson if he hasn’t been convicted? like no sides here jus a genuine question
— Robbie Davis🕷 (@soflorobb) July 13, 2022
Deshaun Watson will only be suspended 4 games and will lead the #Browns to the playoffs!
— ً (@CleveIandOhio) July 13, 2022
Watson critics have cited the 364-game suspension of Major League Baseball Trevor Bauer, who was accused of more horrid acts, as a precedent for what they feel Watson should get in terms of discipline.
But Watson’s backers point to the fact that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft received no punishment from the NFL following his prostitution-related incident a few years ago.
The NFL never punishing Robert Kraft, Jerry Jones, or Dan Snyder could ultimately come back to benefit Deshaun Watson after all in terms of year long suspension vs. 6-8 games.
— Watson Garrett Stefanski Era 🐶 (@MylesOffTheEdge) June 29, 2022
How Could A Light Suspension For Watson Affect The League’s Image?
The NFL has many critics when it comes to what they call a culture that enables or even breeds misogyny.
Several players have been involved in incidents involving sexual misconduct or domestic violence, and commissioner Roger Goodell has been accused of not taking swift enough action against such players.
If Watson is only suspended for 4-6 games, the outcry against the league could be severe.
Critics will also likely be mad at the league for what they perceive is preferential treatment towards stars such as Watson, as well as Kraft and Ben Roethlisberger.