Deshaun Watson to start Cleveland Browns preseason opener despite suspension for sexual misconduct allegations



Watson, along with many other starters on the team, will play against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Browns announced Wednesday.

In a statement, the team said, “QB Deshaun Watson is expected to start the game at QB. The three-time Pro Bowler is expected to make his preseason debut with the Browns after being acquired in a trade from the Texans in March.”
Watson is currently facing a six-game regular-season suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy in private meetings with massage therapists while with the Houston Texans.

The ruling, handed down last week by former federal judge Sue. L Robinson, is the result of Watson’s “predatory conduct”.

However, the six-game ban was well short of the full-season suspension the NFL was seeking, and as a result, the league appealed.
Speaking at an owners’ meeting in Minneapolis on Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called Watson’s behavior “blatant” and “predatory.”

When asked why the league keeps asking for a tougher punishment for Watson, Goodell said: “Because we’ve seen the evidence. (Robinson) was very clear about the evidence, she reinforced the evidence that there were multiple violations here and they were egregious and it was predatory behavior.”

“These are things that we’ve always felt were really important for us to address in a responsible way,” Goodell continued.

Watson is looking to pass during a training camp session.

The league appointed former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey to hear the NFL’s appeal.

According to the collective agreement signed in 2020, Harvey’s decision “will be binding on the player(s), the club(s) and the parties at the ABC”.

Watson has repeatedly denied the charges.

“I’ve never assaulted, never disrespected, and never harassed any woman in my life,” Watson said. “I have no regrets.”

Twenty-four civil lawsuits have been filed against Watson; 23 were settled confidentially. Two Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal charges.

A three-time Pro Bowler, Watson sat out last season with the Texans due to trade demand as well as investigations into those allegations.

Earlier this year, the Browns traded three first-round picks for Watson, then signed him to a five-year, fully guaranteed, $230 million deal, the most guaranteed money in NFL history.


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