Home Sports Cleveland's Deshaun Watson could face 'significant' punishment: Reports

Cleveland’s Deshaun Watson could face ‘significant’ punishment: Reports

The NFLPA is willing to sternly defend Deshaun Watson if he is punished by the league.

The NFLPA is willing to sternly defend Deshaun Watson if he is punished by the league.
Image† Getty Images

“Unprecedented” and “significant”. From ProFootballTalk and the Washington PostThese are the two words we now have to describe what the NFL plans to do for Deshaun Watson’s punishment for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Both publications reportedly spoke to insiders familiar with the NFL’s plan to sanction the new Browns quarterback, who faces 26 civil lawsuits from massage therapists for sexual misconduct. Two grand juries declined to charge him with criminal charges.

We have no terms, we have no monetary amounts – in fact, we’re not sure if it’s a fine, a suspension, or both. But per PFT, the NFL Players’ Association has said they will wholeheartedly defend Watson in the event of an unpaid suspension, and will build their defense on three pillars, the names of which you know: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, Commanders owner Dan Snyder and Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

The Personal Conduct Policy contains a rule that reads: “Property and club or league management are traditionally held to a higher standard and will be subject to greater disciplinary action if the Personal Conduct Policy is violated.”

And that’s the kick. In a league that has virtually refused to impose any real sanctions on its owners, the NFLPA can build a case around this line based on the three owners who have faced somewhat similar situations relatively recently and have largely got out of hand.

Jones has accused his longtime friend and former Cowboys executive, Rich Dalrymple, had spied on and took pictures or videos of cheerleaders changing in the locker room. Kraft was charged with recruiting prostitutes (he pleaded not guilty and charges were later dropped), and Snyder — well, we’re still figuring out the details, but he’s been charged with sexual misconduct as well as building a sexist workplace in Washington. The Snyder case is interesting, as it is still unfolding and Commissioner Roger Goodell himself has agreed to testify before the House Oversight Committee next week about the botched Snyder investigation.

The personal conduct policy requires no criminal charges and operates outside the decisions and timeline of the judicial system, although the process is overseen by a former US prosecutor.

If this defense goes through, it’s not beyond the imagination that the outcome will be the worst of both worlds – one in which no one is held accountable. If they make Watson’s punishment dependent on the owners’ punishment – well, we all know it’s a… lot for an owner to face real consequences. And while the owners in question, especially Snyder, should absolutely be fully and openly investigated and given appropriate penalties for their violations, Watson absolutely should.

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