Deshaun Watson has been suspended for the first 11 games of the 2022 NFL season after the league finally reached a settlement for discipline with the quarterback following long-running sexual assault and sexual misconduct allegations. Watson has also been fined $5 million and must attend a treatment program in addition to the suspension. The settlement puts an end to the lingering question of how Watson would be punished, but the increased suspension hasn’t made the star QB any more remorseful to the women he abused.
Watson met the media on Thursday as the ruling was coming down, and continued to deny wrongdoing. He apologized to the people he “triggered” without showing any accountability for the actions that led to him settling 24 civil lawsuits with women who accused the star QB of sexual assault and misconduct. Here is Watson’s latest non-apology in his own words.
Deshaun Watson on why he accepted a settlement if he claims he’s innocent: “I’ve always been able to stand on my innocence and always said I never assaulted or disrespected anyone but at the same point I have to continue to push forward with my life and career.”
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 18, 2022
Deshaun Watson on why he’s apologizing then: “For everybody that was affected by this situation. There were a lot of people that were triggered.”
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 18, 2022
Watson refusing to accept accountability or show remorse is nothing new: NFL arbiter Judge Sue Robinson made note of Watson’s lack of remorse to the women he abused. While Watson issued a half-hearted apology on Friday that the league reportedly viewed as an important step, his comments following the final ruling show how obtuse he has been to the whole situation.
“I want to say that I’m truly sorry to all of the women that I have impacted in this situation,” Watson said during an interview with the Browns’ pregame show on Friday.
It sure doesn’t seem like he really means it. Watson said he’s “always been able to stand on my innocence” as the ruling came down. ESPN’s Diana Russini reported that Watson was still upset about his original six-game suspension, and has only dug his heels in even more as the settlement was determined.
The signing of this settlement only means Watson is ending the legal process. This has nothing to do with an admission of guilt.
Those close to him share with me today he regrets putting himself in the position. “This isn’t an admission or an apology to the women involved”
— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) August 18, 2022
The timing of the NFL’s suspension is curious. Watson will now make his debut in Week 12 against the Houston Texans, his former team. That probably isn’t by accident. Watson taking the field against Houston will likely drive discussion all week, along with massive ratings on Sunday.
Both Watson and the NFL deserve to be viewed with cynicism for how this situation played out. The league pushed for an indefinite suspension publicly, but immediately started working on a settlement once Robinson’s ruling of a six-game suspension came through. Watson was never put on the commissioner’s exempt list going back to last season, when the Texans sat him the entire season. As the league investigated his behavior, Robinson only spoke to five of his accusers, and the league reportedly interviewed only half of them. Now the league is maintaining that Watson’s forced and halfhearted apology on Friday was an important step, only to see him dig his heels in on his innocence as soon as the suspension was announced.
Reaction around the league centered on how deeply messed up Watson’s entire discipline case proved to be.
Few things in recent NFL memory seem more cynical than Deshaun Watson vaguely apologizing on Friday, only to go back to his stance of denying all responsibility after the league finalized his suspension.
— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) August 18, 2022
“We…understand that there have been many individuals triggered throughout this process.” – the Haslams a few weeks ago
The tone was set from the top. https://t.co/HWDQN1zi13
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) August 18, 2022
the words of a psychopath
Mar 25: I have no regrets
Aug 12: I’m truly sorry to all the women, My decisions I made… I would definitely like to have back
Aug 18: I stand on my innocence I’m not guilty pic.twitter.com/5Eg02DxMPO
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 18, 2022
Watson settled 24 of 25 (and counting) civil suits, the Texans settled another 30 civil suits and Watson is accepting banishment from the NFL until mid-November, with a $5 million fine.
But he still thinks he did nothing wrong.
— Andrew Brandt (@AndrewBrandt) August 18, 2022
In their rush to trade for an elite player, the Browns failed their vetting process of Watson, believed his lies and not only trusted him, but gave him $230M. And if he wins, many there might say it was worth it. It’s disgusting.
— Lindsay Jones (@bylindsayhjones) August 18, 2022
Watson won’t play any further preseason games, but can practice with the Browns until Aug. 30. After that, he can’t practice until Nov. and will return against the Texans in Week 13.
Everyone except Deshaun Watson says Deshaun Watson is remorseful of his actions. The NFL can talk tough about discipline, but their actions paint a different story. They still made sure to get Watson back on the field just in time to face Houston as the TV ratings likely soar.
The discipline here is not insignificant, but it still feels empty given Watson’s lack of remorse. The Browns never cared about the allegations Watson was facing. Watson truly believes he didn’t do anything wrong despite facing multiple forms of discipline. The league just wanted to get him back on the field to face his former team. The NFL might want this story to be over, but anyone following it knows how gross it all feels.
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