In a 15-page conclusion released Monday morning, former federal judge Sue L. Robinson ruled that Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will serve a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy relating to sexual misconduct.

Robinson said that there was not sufficient evidence to rule in favor of an indefinite suspension.

The NFL Players Association has already confirmed that they will stand by Robinson’s ruling and encouraged the NFL to do the same.

If the suspension is upheld, Watson will miss the first six games of the 2022 regular season, but will still be able to practice and play with the Browns in the preseason.

He will not have to pay a fine, but could reportedly lose $345,000 in salary payments. The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement also states that he can practice with the team for the second half of his suspension, beginning in Week 4.

Since March 2021, 25 different women have filed lawsuits against Watson accusing him of inappropriate sexual behavior during massage appointments. Watson has settled 23 of these cases and another was dropped. In March 2022, a jury ruled that Watson would not face criminal charges for nine complaints filed against him.

When one of the initial criminal complaints was first filed against him in March, Watson reiterated in a statement on Twitter that he was not guilty of any wrongdoing.

“I have never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect … it’s about clearing my name, and I look forward to doing that,” Watson said.

In the wake of Watson’s suspension announcement, Robinson and investigators have received public criticism for not pursuing a more severe ruling. In a statement given to USA Today, National Center on Sexual Exploitation CEO Dawn Hawkins said that the punishment for Watson was insufficient but nevertheless represented a step in the right direction.

“We believe that (Watson’s) suspension should have been stricter, but we are thankful that the league has begun to take seriously matters of sexual exploitation by holding players like Mr. Watson accountable,” Hawkins said.

How Does Watson’s Punishment Compare To Others?

Others have argued that Watson’s six-game suspension for sexual misconduct does not properly align with previous suspensions given to other players for different violations.

In an Instagram post published by SBNation, the publication compared Watson’s proposed six-game suspension with Josh Gordon’s 16-game suspension in 2015 for substance abuse and Calvin Ridley’s 17-game suspension last season for gambling violations. The caption argued that the NFL’s potential decision to stand by Robinson’s ruling would have a clear, negative impact on the league’s priorities in policy enforcement.

With the NFLPA standing by the ruling, the NFL has three days to do the same or submit a written appeal, which would be a clear sign that the league is still seeking a more severe suspension. In the meantime, Watson will continue to report to the Browns’ training camp as his case nears a potential end.

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