The NFL’s decision on whether to appeal the Deshaun Watson the suspension and eventual resolution of any appeal will necessarily be influenced by public opinion, as the entire Personal Conduct Policy is a public relations tool. And so, as the league gauges public reaction, comments from organizations like the National Organization for Women will resonate.
“He is unacceptable, insulting and dangerous – but not surprisingly – that Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will only face a 6-game suspension – without fine – following an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct made by more than two dozen of women,” NOW said in a statement on Monday.
This paragraph illustrates one of the common misconceptions about suspension. It stems from evidence based on four accusers, not 24 or more. Judge Robinson ignored the existence of the civil lawsuits, even taking into account the aggravating and mitigating factors. In the court of public opinion, this evidence cannot and will not be excluded.
“The NFL and the multi-billion dollar sports industry have a vested interest in enabling sexual misconduct, assault and violence,” the statement read. “They even wrote it into Deshaun Watson’s $230 million contract!” The Browns knew their star rookie would be suspended for at least part of this year’s season due to his sex offense record, so they restructured his contract to make the majority of his $46 million payout. the first year a “signing bonus”. not related to him playing real games.
Although Watson did indeed want the structure to minimize its financial losses, it is common for the contracts of major players to include a low base salary in the first year, for cap reasons.
“The NFL has had a problem with violence against women for years – and everyone knows it,” the statement said. “NOW has been candid about the mishandling of the 2014 domestic violence case against Baltimore Raven Ray Rice, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has since failed to find a consistent, independent and reliable way to fight the scourge of violence against women – and bring perpetrators to justice”.
This ignores the six-game domestic violence penalty imposed in 2017 on the running back of the Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott, who has never been arrested, charged or even prosecuted. Also, it overlooks the fact that Goodell still hasn’t directly weighed in on Watson. It will come on appeal, if/when (when) there is one.
“Deshaun Watson must not be allowed to profit from his horrific behavior, and the NFL must change its business model that enables, enables and hides sexual misconduct to one that respects women and holds abusers accountable,” the statement concluded. . “Shame on the Cleveland Browns for rewarding Deshaun Watson and shame on the NFL for perpetuating a system where money talks and women aren’t heard.”
Again, it’s not over yet. Since Judge Robinson found that Watson did what he was accused of doing, an appeal becomes more likely. A longer suspension also becomes more likely as public pressure continues to mount.