Sports

As lawsuits escalate, do the Browns trust Deshaun Watson? | Cleveland Browns

The 23rd civil lawsuit was filed against Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson on charges of sexual misconduct last week. By the time you read this, the number could be 24.

Earlier this month, a pair of accusers appeared on HBO’s Real Sports alongside Bryant Gumbel to detail their experiences with Watson. The stories led to the 23rd woman filing a lawsuit.

They are not the only accusations. Sports Illustrated has investigated further reports of sexual misconduct by Watson against massage therapists who have chosen not to publish their names for fear of reprisals.

Watson has denied all the allegations. He has made it black and white: He tells the truth; 23 accusers lied. “I have never attacked or disrespected or harassed any woman in my life,” Watson said at an introductory press conference after her trade to Cleveland.

Which begs the question: Did the Browns trust Deshaun Watson? That’s something the team that gave him the richest contract in NFL history has yet to answer.

The Browns completed an internal investigation before trading five draft picks – including the first three rounds – for Watson, who they later awarded them with a new, record-breaking $250 million contract. At Watson’s press conference, Browns general manager Andrew Berry said he was “comfortable” with the amount of work the team had put into investigating the claims against Watson. He was not asked if he believe the accused or the accusers.

When combining the number of women who have filed civil or criminal complaints against Watson, those who have been independently verified but have not filed legal complaints, and those who withdrew their claims after knowing their names would be made public, the total number of women who accused Watson of various forms sexual offenses approaching 30.

Watson reiterated that he has never “disrespectful” of a woman four times at the same press conference – the only time she has spoken publicly in a year.

Do the Cleveland Browns trust Deshaun Watson?

HBO’s Real Sports interview didn’t reveal any new information. What the HBO show does, however, is put the accusers’ emotions on screen in a way that text just can’t. Two women are forced to relive moments of shame, embarrassment and fear in public.

Kyla Hayes details her massage with Watson. “He wanted me to make a V motion in his pelvic area,” she says. “So, through her stomach to her thighs, back to her stomach. I just kept on massaging and doing what he asked me to until his dick kept touching me over and over like I did. He moved his penis back and forth as my hand moved too.”

Kyle said that Watson’s penis allegedly touched his hand on purpose and he ejaculated. “It’s disgraceful and shameful and disgusting.”

Ashley Solis, another massage therapist, explained how she was “very scared” at the end of her session with Watson. “He just said, ‘I know you have a career to protect.’ And ‘I know you don’t want anyone messing with it as much as I don’t want anyone messing with mine,’” Solis said. “That sounds like a threat to me.”

The Real Sports segment also encourages other women to come forward. “Because [HBO] By and large, Plaintiffs are struck by the courage of the victims who are willing to come forward and speak out, and are deeply displeased with the mistreatment of Watson and his legal team and Plaintiffs’ revictimization,” the lawsuit filed last week states. “But it is Watson himself who claims that even now he is ‘unrepentant’ and has done nothing wrong which strengthens his resolve.”

Do the Browns trust Deshaun Watson?

There are, logically, three answers:

Browns To do believes Watson and believes that more than 20 massage therapists conspired to try to bring down the quarterback for some kind of personal gain, financial or otherwise.

Browns don’t believed Watson but believed that his behavior did not rise to the most despicable standards. That he is not – or will not in the future – be accused of any conduct that can be proven in court.

Browns don’t trust Watson and them not care – because they’re fine hiding behind a shield of touchdowns and talent and victories and Lombards and parades and initiatives and unrevealed community work and collective interest in moving ahead in the age of social media to come.

Brown’s actions tell. They exited the trade-for-Watson draw before they returned in the last hour with an unmatched offer: A five-year, fully guaranteed, $230 million deal, the first of its kind in NFL history.

Deshaun Watson contract

Watson holds the top court of the league. Tim walks to Atlanta hotel to seduce he once the Texans agreed to trade, not the other way around. Presentation done. List construction is discussed. Croissants are eaten. The red carpet was rolled out. Outrageous contracts were offered to players who could help them by owners who couldn’t resist. Four teams kneel at the altar: The Saints, Panthers, Falcons, and Browns all meet Watson in person. Eleven teams inquired about its availability and its price tag. Their reluctance to pursue a deal is ultimately sporting, not civil.

The Browns are spectacle winners – thanks, in large part, to the dirty fine print in their bid. They agreed to artificially suppress Watson’s salary for the upcoming season to limit the financial hit to Watson in the event of a suspension.

Watson’s $230 million deal paid the quarterback $9 million at signing. He will be paid $55 million per year from 2023 to 2026, whether he is suspended by the league or not. His salary for next season? $1 million. The deal doubled as an acknowledgment from the Cleveland hierarchy that it anticipated some suspension form this season.

Would they have included such a clause – such an incentive – if they believed Watson had never, proved, disrespected a woman?

The current NFL investigation into Watson remains open, with no time limit given for when it will conclude – a new charge could mean the delay of any decision. This is how we do it. In America where the justice system can’t find the right way to prosecute domestic violence or sexual assault, we ask football to do better. NFL investigations work independently of the law. They do not use the standard of criminal or civil law to decide a case. They use their own standards: Does it violate the Formless Privacy Policy?

The most recent CBA, finalized in March 2020, incorporates a Disciplinary Officer who makes the initial decision on whether a player will be suspended, and for how long. Disciplinary Officers are jointly employed and paid by the league and the NFLPA, a notable change to the previous protocol that was run entirely by the commissioners.

After the Disciplinary Officer issues a decision, the commissioner, or his/her designee, retains full authority over the appeal. Based on policy language, the commissioner has broad powers in terms of reviewing, revising, or canceling the Disciplinary Officer’s decision.

Each financial penalty is related to the length of the suspension. The league does not fine violators in a set amount. Instead, they suspended a player for several weeks, with the player losing his weekly salary as part of the suspension. By banging Watson’s salary into the future and including suspension-resistant language in the contract, the Browns agreed to inject the quarterback against potential financial penalties the league could levy against him.

There are no concrete reports on NFL thinking. Watson served a shadow ban last year: He wasn’t officially suspended; nor was he placed on the “commissioner’s exclusion list”. Instead, Watson was asked to stay away from the Texas building but still receive his full salary. Will that league factor over time?

You can read through the tea leaves to see where it leads. As Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr notes, Brown is only scheduled for two national TV games next season, despite adding one of the game’s stars to his most influential (and illustrious) position and playing in one of the most competitive, nationally relevant leagues. division. There will be more Drew Lock-led Seahawks at primetime this season than the Browns.

It didn’t take one of the league’s investigative crews to know that was likely because the scheduler anticipated Watson would not be available.

Watson’s suspension can range from a few weeks to half a season to an entire year. It makes sense that the NFL could follow the MLB path: Baseball recently handed Trevor Bauer a 324-game, two-year ban under the league’s domestic violence policy. It was an unprecedented decision for the American sports league, which effectively ended Bauer’s career over sexual assault allegations.

The NFL could take a similar stance, especially if they wanted to penalize Brown for trying to offset any penalty thanks to Watson’s contract structure.

The league and law will reach their conclusion. By committing to new trades and contracts, Brown has publicly acknowledged that they had reached an agreement of their own.

Watson does not drag accusations into the murky waters he says, the typical playbook of the rich and powerful. He did not claim a misunderstanding. His claim is that the accusations are false, there are no ifs or buts. He said he “never” disrespected a women – let alone 30. The Browns have offered strong pleasantries and no-isms before a direct answer to the obvious follow-up: Do they trust Deshaun Watson?



As lawsuits escalate, do the Browns trust Deshaun Watson? | Cleveland Browns

Source link As lawsuits escalate, do the Browns trust Deshaun Watson? | Cleveland Browns

Back to top button