Divide intensifies in league office over handling of Deshaun Watson

Cleveland Browns Mandatory Minicamp
Getty Images

Even before recent developments gave the Deshaun Watson case a more ominous feel, some in the league office believed that Watson should not play until the pending litigation has ended. However, Commissioner Roger Goodell took the possibility of paid leave off the table in March.

Starting with the feature that debuted 23 days ago on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, the situation has gotten worse for Watson, with two more lawsuits filed, two more expected, and possibly more to come. As one source with the dynamics of the situation explained it to PFT on Thursday, the league is very concerned about the drip, drip, drip of more cases being filed.

The new cases, the looming cases, and the possibility for even more cases, coupled with the HBO story and the recent article from Jenny Vrentas of the New York Times, have given more credibility to those in the league office who want Watson to be sidelined until the litigation has completely ended.

It’s unclear how this split will be resolved, and it will be difficult for the league to make a full and final decision regarding potential discipline without knowing how many cases will be filed. Through it all, the league has to balance the potential consequences of going too far with the possible fallout from not going far enough. And it was a failure to go far enough with Ray Rice in 2014 that nearly brought down the house.

Whatever the Commissioner does, he won’t put himself in position to be criticized again for going too easily on a player accused of misconduct against a woman. Or 26 women. And counting.

45 responses to “Divide intensifies in league office over handling of Deshaun Watson

  1. The league is going to let this play out. It’s the summer by Week 1 it could be a whole new narrative.

  2. It’s not that difficult. Put Watson on the exempt list until everything is settled. At that point you then make a decision about suspension.

  3. Is there a reason why they don’t just give him an indefinite suspension now and adjust it later? Clearly he’s going to be suspended. Why not start it to get him out of the light. Then come to a decision on length later. Do indefinitely for now. Any reason why they aren’t doing this?

  4. Watson needs to be indicted by the feds for flying that one therapist into Houston from Atlanta to engage in a sexual act for money. That is a federal crime that they could easily get an indictment for, so you have to ask yourself why the federal prosecutors office in Houston is refusing to take a look at the facts surrounding that event

  5. I’m just happy Goodell has to work harder for his salary, as this case intensifies in and around growing complications for the league. Or work harder at ducking them.

  6. Don’t worry. Congress is going to tell Roger how to address the problem. Some owners may agree, some may not. I think ownership will strongly consider their suggestions. Lots of stadiums to be built.

  7. If he plays again he will be boooed everytime he takes the field for at least 26 opposing games and possibly some home ones. Hopefully we’re looking at a 34 game suspension followed by a season and a half of ridicule and then maybe Watson will Google the word: shame.

  8. His number 1 defense is that it’s all a he said/she said situation…but that angle takes a sinister turn when you realize he actively took steps to make sure it was only 2 people in the room….he guaranteed himself a he/she, my word against her word scenario. They have txt messages where he made sure it was only them…to me that’s the nail in the coffin. He knew what he was doing.

  9. Until he’s guilty of something, there’s zero reason to do anything. Not sure why you don’t understand that. There was video evidence of Rice, and this is not in any way similar to begin with. I still don’t understand this vendetta against the man.

  10. Wait. There are employees working within the NFL head office that have enough clout to create a difference of opinion versus Roger Goodell? The owners pay the boss $64 million every year and the guy doesn’t have 1000% control over the decision-making process with his own staff?

  11. The NFL doesn’t want to take any action against Watson or they would have long ago.

    Their actions speak much louder.


  12. $230 million guaranteed. $80 million more than the next highest. Still blows my mind. I feel for Browns fans. They could have a legit great team, finally…and still might. But wow, what a final piece to the puzzle of 20+ yrs of suffering

  13. 8 games, reduced to 4 on appeal

    Watson will be under Center for the Browns in Week 5 when the Chargers bring their highl-flying attack into Cleveland.

    Herbert vs Watson, in a made for TV instant Classic.

    The NFL wants this game, badly; Goodell has the power to make it happen, and he will-

  14. Who didn’t see this coming? The Browns. That’s who. I hope he never takes the field again. I won’t root for the Browns anymore if he’s on the team.

  15. “Innocent until proven guilty” is the standard in criminal court cases, and rightfully so. It doesn’t apply here. The NFL as a private entity is only bound by the collective bargaining agreement with the NFLPA, which allows the league to discipline players.

  16. Let’s face it: The Browns screwed the pooch here. They probably never envisioned the depth of the issue, or if they did and said basically, “We don’t care. Whatever penalty happens, happens, but we’re good at QB for at least 10 years when it’s all over,” then their integrity is in the Dumpster. And that contract! I hear some Browns’ fans have forsaken the team. Good for them. At least they have morals.

  17. lionsnati0n says:
    June 16, 2022 at 7:23 pm
    He would’ve been a good fit on the Patriots.

    You should worry more about your own “team” and less about other teams’ issues.

  18. Coupon Email says:
    June 16, 2022 at 7:35 pm
    Innocent until proven guilty.
    Thanks for the reminder DeShaun.

  19. Why would Goodell take the exempt list off the table? Putting Watson on the exempt list until all these sexual misconduct allegations are resolved seems to be the most prudent course for Goodell to take. Watson should be cleared of all allegations before he steps onto a field in a Browns uniform. I don’t think any respectable Browns fan would want anything less.

  20. At some point you have to assume some of these woman are simply trying to get on the gravy train

  21. The overwhelming downvotes on “Innocent till proven guilty” scares the hell out of me, and where this country is headed….guilty or not…Jesus

  22. Last summer the league, led by two women, interviewed 10 of the accusers. At least two of the women being interviewed said that they felt the interviews were one-sided, being asked unfair questions like what they were wearing during the massages.
    However, obviously the NFL didn’t think there was enough evidence to suspend him without pay but boy, it sure would have look good now if they did.

  23. Criminal charges thrown out in record time. Have you read how ridiculous the complaints are! Civil cas s will be tossed soon too. It’s why Buzbee keeps delaying the case. He knows it’s crap.

  24. What would be considered going “too far” with Watson’s punishment? I can’t think of a single punishment that would be too harsh. The league could justifiably give him the boot if this ends in any way other than a complete exoneration of Watson… which seems unlikely to say the least.

  25. I’m a big innocent until proven guilty guy, but what Watson did isn’t exactly something you can prove without video. The situations he’s putting these women in are exactly what whatever you call this movement is fighting against, rape culture. This is a big problem for the NFL and they have gone too soft on others in the past. These are civil cases, and if they aren’t settled, the bar is much lower to show he was negligent. Based on what I’ve heard so far, that will be easy for some of the cases. Has Goodell had the sitdown with Watson and has Watson been completely honest with him? Are there just 24 or are there 100 possible cases? If he hasn’t been honest then Goodell will be much harsher. Watson already missed a year, but that wasn’t imposed by the NFL. Anything less than 6 games would seem like a slap on the wrist.

  26. Watson should have been suspended indefinitely until the legal issues were resolved. Even if it took 2-3 years.
    Now Cleveland makes a PR disastrous trade and Guarantees all 230 Mil.Way to do business, NFL. Cart before horse. How can he be allowed to play right now ? I guess football is more important than possible sexual assault.

  27. Not sure what new narrative it could be, unless there are 52 women by then. The guy’s attorney has basically said it happened and is thisclose to rolling out the “being a scumbag is not illegal” defense.

    “The league is going to let this play out. It’s the summer by Week 1 it could be a whole new narrative.”

  28. “by Week 1 it could be a whole new narrative.”

    By Week 1 the number of lawsuits could be up to 30.

  29. Although the Trevor Bauer case was apparently more violent in nature, I see similarities. Bauer is out for two years – even though charges were never brought. Watson has a line of complaints around the corner, and it could be two years before settled, should some cases go to court. IF, and that’s a big IF, he settles each individual case – that’s a partial admission of guilt. Two years minimum for this guy.

  30. Obviously the league can’t suspend Watson based on what might happen,but should suspend minimum 1 season unpaid,reviewable.

  31. Since the Exempt list is for pending criminal actions that’s a not viable option. Then again it is early and who knows what’s gonna happen by the end of the day with Watson. Quite frankly the NFL should just issue a statement withholding ANY punishment/suspension until his cases are over and done. Then if it comes out during the many many many trials that he’s as disgusting as the alleged victims say..throw him out of the league. That also defeats his and the Browns tricky contract that only pays him one million this year, which appears to have been written to minimize financial loss due to a suspension. He plays for a million this year, gets proven to be a disgusting human in some trials in the off season, then gets suspended/tossed out of the league without pay when the big bucks comes due. For everyone wanting him tossed now. everyone is entitled to their day in a court of law. It’s due process people.

  32. His number 1 defense is that it’s all a he said/she said situation…but that angle takes a sinister turn when you realize he actively took steps to make sure it was only 2 people in the room….
    I’m confused…for those of us who have ever had a massage session, how many times were there more than two people in the room? Unless it’s a couple’s massage, then there are only two people in the room. This is a civil process, not criminal, stop expecting the NFL to treat this as a criminal case when it is not. Two grand juries chose not to indict, accept that and move on….

  33. As a browns fan, I will laugh if the guy never sees the field. Reep what you sow.

  34. There is absolutely nothing the NFL can do to Watson that is in any way meaningful sanctions. Based on the way his contract was written, a year suspension is little more than another years paid vacation. Consequences for his behaviour? More money.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.