CLEVELAND — Reaction to the Deshaun Watson settlement has ranged from satisfaction to some harsh words for the NFL. For example, opinion regarding the severity of the punishment was mixed among News 5 followers on Twitter.
What do you think of #Browns QB Deshaun Watson's 11-game, $5 million suspension?— News 5 Cleveland (@WEWS) August 18, 2022
The founder of the Cleveland Browns Women’s Group on Facebook said she’s OK with the 11-game suspension and $5 million fine.
“People do deserve second chances; I do believe that,” said Robyn Lockner.
Lockner says some type of punishment for Watson was needed.
“I was OK with the six games as well, but 11 is not a full season. I thought a fine should have been implemented in the first place,” said Lockner.
Lockner’s Facebook group has more than 6,000 members.
“I think Deshaun has a lot of work to do to change the thought process, especially of a lot of the women,” said Lockner.
But she says football is a team sport, not just about one player.
“I think everybody is grateful that it’s over and anticipating this football season,” said Lockner.
That isn’t the case for everyone.
Texas attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the women who filed lawsuits against Watson, lashed out at the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement to News 5.
“The message today to all the victims is clear — if you believe you have been sexually assaulted by a powerful person, keep your mouth shut and go away. The NFL has certainly demonstrated that its ownership and the organization doesn’t care,” he said.
Buzbee encouraged sexual assault survivors to keep speaking up.
The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center says it stands with those who have been hurt by Watson. While traditional avenues of criminal justice may have failed his accusers, the settlement of increased punishment is a step towards validating their experiences, it said in a statement.
“I think the NFL and NFLPA and Deshaun Watson want to put this behind them,” said Case Western Sports Law Professor Aaron Caputo.
Caputo says he believes the main goal of the NFL, the players association and Watson was to find some middle ground they were okay with.
“This is the highest levied penalty both in number of games and fine under the NFL's personal conduct policy,” said Caputo.
Caputo says because it was a settlement it doesn’t set a precedent.
“But it does show the seriousness of the situation,” said Caputo.
Lockner says she is happy with the mandatory evaluation and treatment as part of the settlement and hopes Watson can grow from it.
“He truly doesn’t believe he did anything wrong, and that’s why he needs that counseling to help him understand not all women are the same,” said Lockner.
Lockner says her Facebook group continues to grow, and that for every 100 women they lost they gained 100 more.
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