The National Football League and the NFL Player’s Association reached a settlement on Thursday regarding the disciplinary matter of Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson who will now serve an 11-game suspension, along with a $5 million fine, without pay after he was accused by more than two dozen women of sexual misconduct during massage sessions, according to ESPN’s Jake Trotter.
Additionally, Watson will undergo mandatory evaluation by behavioral experts and follow their suggested treatment program. Watson’s fine and contributions, from both the league and the Browns organization, will create a fund to support nonprofit organizations in the United States “that educate young people on healthy relationships, promote education and prevention of sexual misconduct and assault, support survivors, and related causes,” the league said in an official statement.
The suspension will officially start on August 30th and will be eligible for reinstatement on November 28th. Watson could potentially be available to play when the Browns take on the Houston Texans, his former team, in Houston in Week 13.
“I’m grateful that the disciplinary process has ended and extremely appreciative of the tremendous support I have received throughout my short time with the Browns organization,” Watson said in a statement released by the Browns. “I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused. I take accountability for the decisions I made. My focus going forward is on working to become the best version of myself on and off the field and supporting my teammates however possible while I’m away from the team. I’m excited about what the future holds for me in Cleveland.”
Watson spoke to the media on Thursday.
“I’ll continue to stand on my innocence, just because you know settlements, and things like that happen doesn’t mean that a person is guilty for anything,” Watson said. “I feel like a person has an opportunity to stand on his innocence and prove that, and we proved that from a legal side, and just going to continue to push forward as an individual and as a person.”
He also said he plans to share his side of the story in the future.
“That’s definitely the plan, that’s definitely the goal,” he said. “I feel like through the whole process I’ve been trying to tell my side of the story. But a lot of people just didn’t pay a lot of attention to it.”
“For everyone that was affected by this situation. There were a lot of people that were triggered,” he said, adding that he has “apologized to all women, so anybody that was affected”.