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As the The Cleveland Browns attempt to navigate controversy surrounding quarterback Deshaun Watson and the length of his suspension, a new potential controversy looms.
The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) will hold its annual convention in Cleveland August 24-27. Watson was suspended for six games on Monday for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
The suspension follows 24 lawsuits accusing Watson of sexual misconduct during massage therapy appointments.
The The NFL appealed the decision by Independent Disciplinary Officer Sue L. Robinson, who reportedly requested a one-year suspension for the three-time Pro Bowl selection.
In a statement, the AMTA had harsh words for the “relatively mild punishment” given to Watson.
“Massage therapists should never have to tolerate conduct outside the boundaries of therapeutic massage therapy during a massage session,” said the AMTA said in a statement.
“AMTA strongly believes that any customer who crosses the line for inappropriate contact should face the legal consequences. And it’s disappointing to see such a light sanction from the NFL given to Deshaun Watson in their findings of his violation of the league’s personal conduct policy.
“While the NFL is concerned about professionalism and maintaining high standards in the league, creating a safe workplace for all members of athlete care teams should be a priority. We hope the league takes measures to ensure that massage therapists at Browns staff and throughout the NFL, as well as those who support individual athletes, are able to work in a safe and professional environment.”
Watson denied everything wrongdoing and settled with 23 of his 24 accusers.
“Massage therapists work every day to help clients relieve pain, discomfort, stress and manage medical conditionsmaking a significant difference to their clients, especially to the millions of Americans who struggle with chronic pain,” said Michaele Colizza, National President of AMTA. “Massage is and should always be about health and well-being in a safe environment, whether for an athlete or any other client.”
The Browns open their preseason schedule against the Jacksonville Jaguars on August 12.