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Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson suspended six games: A look at the timeline

Vincent Frank

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson now knows when he’ll be able to take the field for his team in a regular-season game.

In an announcement that has been expected for some time now, arbitrator Sue L. Robinson handed down a six-game suspension to Watson stemming from the north of 20 women who have alleged sexual misconduct on the part of the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback.

The official word comes from Ian Rapoport and several others. Watson was found to be in violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy. The NFL now has three days to file an appeal, if they choose to do so.

In addition to the suspension, Robinson’s decision restricts Watson to only receive massages from therapists on the Browns’ staff. Robinson stated Watson’s pattern of behavior was “egregious” while noting the behavior was “nonviolent sexual conduct“.

It was just Sunday evening that reports surfaced a final determination would be made by the former Delaware federal judge in this new arbitration process pitting NFL players against the league over potential discipline.

With Watson now suspended six games, Jacoby Brissett will take over as Cleveland’s starting quarterback on a stopgap basis. There’s also a chance that general manager Andrew Berry and Co. kick the tires on an outside option such as San Francisco 49ers veteran Jimmy Garoppolo. It also remains to be seen whether either side will file an appeal. Though, the NFLPA pretty much announced Sunday evening that it would stand by Robinson’s ruling.

The on-field impact of Watson’s suspension is by now well known. Cleveland exhausted three first-round picks and change to acquire the former first-round pick from the Houston Texans during the spring. It then signed him to a fully-guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract.

Having sat out the entire 2021 season due to both his trade request from the Texans and these accusations, the 26-year-old Watson will now have to wait a while longer to take to the field.

Related: Deshaun Watson and the NFL’s highest-paid QBs

Deshaun Watson suspension: A timeline

houston texans, deshaun watson
Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Now that all of this has come to a head, it’s time to check in on the timeline surrounding this Watson off-field scandal. It’s been nearly 18 months in the making with twists and turns at nearly every stop.

  • January 28, 2021: Deshaun Watson officially requests a trade from the Houston Texans less than six months after signing a four-year, $156 million extension with the team. Watson reportedly grew frustrated over the direction of the organization.
  • January 29, 2021: Texans general manager Nick Caserio says the team has “zero interest” in trading Watson, setting the stage for a prolonged battle between the two sides.
  • March 16, 2021: Sexual misconduct allegations surface against Watson with one woman initially coming forward. The accusation included a civil suit against the then-Texans starter.

“As a result of a social-media post by a publicity-seeking plaintiff’s lawyer, I recently became aware of a lawsuit that has apparently been filed against me.

I have not yet seen the complaint, but I know this: I have never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect. The plaintiff’s lawyer climes that this isn’t about money, but before filing suit he made a baseless six-figure settlement demand, which I quickly rejected. Unlike him, this isn’t about money for me — it’s about clearing my name, and I look forward to doing that.”

Deshaun Watson denies allegations via Twitter (March 16, 2021)
  • March 28, 2021: Watson now facing lawsuits for alleged sexual assault/misconduct from 20 women.
  • April 3, 2021: Houston Police Department opens up criminal investigation into allegations against Watson.

“Today, a complainant filed a report with the Houston Police Department concerning Deshaun Watson. As with any allegation, the Houston Police Department is now conducting an investigation and will not comment further during the investigation process.”

Houston Police Department statement (April 3, 2021)

Related: Deshaun Watson and the top NFL QBs of 2022

  • August 17, 2021: The attorney for those accusing Watson, Tony Buzbee, indicates that the FBI has met with him over the allegations.
  • October 27, 2021: NFL announces that its investigation into Watson allegations is now ongoing.

“Obviously, the police have been investigating, and we don’t have access to all of that information at this point in time. We pride ourselves on not interfering in that and in being as cooperative as we can in order to get all the facts. I think that process is still ongoing.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Deshaun Watson investigation
  • December 16, 2021: Search warrants obtained for Watson’s social media accounts amid criminal investigation into the quarterback.
  • March 20, 2022: Browns release statement after acquiring Watson, claim that they ran a thorough investigation. Attorney for Watson accusers claims that the Browns did not reach out to him.
  • March 24, 2022: Second grand jury in Texas opts against recommending criminal charges against Mr. Watson.
  • May 17, 2022: Watson admits in deposition that one of his accusers left a massage appointment in tears.

“Yes, because she was teary-eyed. And I was trying to figure out what was going on. So, I assumed that she was uncomfortable in whatever reason. And we talked about working in the future. And so, I said, `We can work in the future. Just let me know.’ And then I sent my apologies as whatever reason she was teary-eyed for.”

Deshaun Watson on why he sent apology text to accuser (May 17, 2022)
  • June 6, 2022: Accuser total up to 24 as yet another women comes forward by suing Watson for sexual misconduct.
  • June 8, 2022: Houston Texans named as co-defendant in Watson civil cases, bringing an NFL team directly into the mix.
Deshaun Watson
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
  • June 28, 2022: The first day of a three-day disciplinary hearing between the NFL and Watson begins. Former federal judge Sue L. Robinson oversees the hearing.
  • July 31, 2022: Reports break that a decision will be made on a Watson suspension Monday. Quarterback settles three of four remaining civil cases.
  • August 1, 2022: Watson suspended six games by arbitrator in the disciplinary hearing. Eligible to return in Week 7, pending an appeal by either the NFLPA or the league.