The NFL and the NFL Players Association have reached an agreement on the fate of Deshaun Watson. According to ESPN, the Cleveland Browns quarterback will serve an 11-game suspension without pay, pay a fine of $5 million and undergo mandatory evaluation by behavioral experts and follow their suggested treatment program.
The $5 million fine and contributions from both the NFL and Browns of $1 million are set to establish 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,” according to a statement from the league.
In a statement released from the Browns, Watson seemingly reconciled for his alleged actions.
“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 expressed. “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’s statement was, however, combated on Thursday (Aug. 18) after he spoke with the media.
“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. 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,” the quarterback remarked.
The NFL stands behind its decision to allow Watson back on the field and in the game.
“Deshaun has committed to doing the hard work on himself that is necessary for his return to the NFL,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “This settlement requires compliance with a professional evaluation and treatment plan, a significant fine, and a more substantial suspension. We are grateful to Judge Robinson and Peter Harvey for their efforts in addressing these matters, which laid the foundation for reaching this conclusion.”
Watson was accused of sexual assault and other inappropriate conduct during massage therapy sessions in lawsuits filed by 25 women. He has settled or agreed to settle all but one lawsuit, which remains pending.