The NFL handed down a suspension for Deshawn Watson this week.
Watson received an 11-game suspension and a $5 million fine.
Watson initially received a 6-game suspension by Judge Sue Robinson, who was appointed by the NFL and the NFLPA to oversee player’s conduct that may be considered detrimental to the league.
In 2010, the NFL suspended Ben Roethlisberger for only six games related to a sexual assault case involving a college student. Roger Goodell said the suspension was only six games because of a lack of criminal charges.
Robert Kraft, the New England Patriots owner, was seen on camera in 2020, in a Florida massage parlor paying for a sex act. Prosecutors dropped the charges and Kraft was never suspended or fined by the NFL.
The NFL appealed the initial suspension for Watson, and lobbied for a one-year suspension. Watson’s legal team, and the NFL and the NFLPA, agreed to the 11-game suspension.
The NFL desperately wants to put this behind them, obviously because it tarnishes the image the NFL wants its brand to portray to its fans and billion dollar sponsors.
In 2017, the Houston Texans chose Deshawn Watson with the 12th pick of the NFL Draft. Watson came into the league with an impeccable reputation as a guy that you could build a team with, and make the face of your franchise—on and off the field.
Watson’s resume speaks for itself. He was a National Champion, Consensus All-American, 2x Davey O’Brien Award winner, 2x Manning Award winner, and has received many other awards and accolades.
Watson had a really good rookie season that ended with a injury. He played well and was voted to the Pro Bowl. He followed that up with two more Pro Bowl seasons. He led the Texans to back-to-back division titles in 2018 and 2019, and led the league in passing in 2020.
Watson endeared himself to the Houston community through his Deshawn Watson Foundation, providing charitable gifts to the community. He had a willingness to be a vital and visible part of a city—a city that clearly accepted him as a favorite son.
The Texans awarded Watson with a new 4-year, $156 million deal. He was living the dream—rich, famous, and handsome.
He had this city in the palm of his hand.
Just months after signing that contract, he became entangled in a dispute with management on how the franchise was being run after the firing of Bill O’Brien.
Then the massage scandal hit the news.
In just a matter of months, Watson’s whole world was turned upside down. It was as if he was stopped at the goal line, after one of his unbelievable escapes from the pocket.
Only Watson and the women who accused him of these allegations really know what took place during those massages. He was cleared of all criminal charges, and settled civil charges with the majority of the women involved.
I hope all parties involved seek counseling and treatment for whatever harm that may have been caused because of Watson’s alleged behavior.
Moving forward, let this be a teachable moment for all athletes to learn from this.
Surround yourself with people who are going to hold you accountable, and not just yes men—people who are going to tell you what you need to hear, even though it may not be what you want to hear.
Your name and your reputation is all you have.
Protect your family name and legacy at all times.
Deshawn, get up and dust yourself off. Ask for forgiveness and get back in the game. Always fall back on the seeds that were sown into you by your mama.
Only you can change the narrative on how this story ends.
I Just Tell It Like It Is!!!
Burl “The Coach” Jones