After a judge ruled that the Cleveland Browns quarterback was guilty of all the sexually inappropriate abusive behavior he had been accused of but suspended him for only six games because there wasn’t a precedent to suspend a player accused of “non-violent” sexual conduct for longer, the NFL appealed. It’s a messy situation because, in this case, the NFL Commissioner wanted to suspend Watson for at least one full season because he knew that allowing him to return any sooner than that (if ever) would be a PR disaster for the NFL.
However, under new rules established this season, the power to singularly make decisions about player suspensions was taken away from Goodell and given to a third party. After a judge ruled that Watson would be suspended for six games, it was the NFL — and not Watson — who appealed. Goodell sought a bigger penalty.
Ultimately, the NFL and Watson settled on an 11-game suspension and a $5 million fine, which is still entirely too little for a player accused — and found guilty by the NFL of — sexually assaulting multiple women. Twenty-four women, in all, made accusations against Watson, which means that Watson will only be suspended for less than one half of a football game for each woman he sexually assaulted.
Moreover, the $5 million fine levied against Watson is peanuts compared to the $230 million contract he signed with Cleveland. Worse still, in anticipation of a suspension, the Browns backloaded his contract so that he would lose very little money in the first season of his deal if he couldn’t play (and his signing bonus would remain unaffected). Also, the $5 million fine will go to charity, so it will probably work as a tax write-off for Watson, anyway.
But, you know, the NFL and the Browns are making up for it by donating $1 million apiece to support victims of sexual misconduct and assault. In other words, the Browns will give 1/230th of Watson’s contract to support sexual assault victims, Watson will still earn most of his $230 million salary, and fans of the Browns will have to either revoke their allegiances or resign themselves to supporting a team that employs a monster.
Why? Because the woeful Browns think they can win a couple more games with Watson as QB. Good luck getting to the playoffs with Jacoby Brisset behind center for the first 11 games, and good luck keeping a guy who sexually assaulted two dozen women and “lacked remorse,” according to the ruling judge, out of trouble while he’s serving out his suspension. The fact that the Browns — or any team, for that matter — will allow Watson into their clubhouse speaks volumes about the NFL itself.