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A look at notable suspensions under NFL’s personal conduct policy reveals severity of Watson settlement

Few players have been suspended for more than 10 games
Ben Roethlisberger
Posted at 1:11 PM, Aug 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-18 18:37:20-04

CLEVELAND — Cleveland quarterback Deshaun Watson was suspended for 11 games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy following accusations of sexual misconduct made against him by two dozen women in Texas when he played for Houston. The harsher penalty came after the league appealed the original six-game suspension.

On Monday, Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson suspended 11 games and fined $5 million (accusations of sexual harassment and assault while playing for the Houston Texans).

Here are some other notable player suspensions under the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

2021 — Running back Derrius Guice suspended six games (domestic violence).

2020 — Wide receiver Antonio Brown suspended eight games (multiple violations of personal conduct policy).

2019 — Cleveland running back Kareem Hunt suspended eight games (assault caught on video).

2019 — Seattle defensive lineman Jarran Reed suspended six games (assault accusation).

2019 — Raiders guard Richie Incognito suspended two games (disorderly conduct).

2018 — Seattle linebacker Mychal Kendricks suspended eight games (insider trading).

2018 — Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston suspended three games (accused of touching a female Uber driver inappropriately in 2016).

2018 — Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith suspended four games (domestic violence).

2017 — Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott suspended six games (domestic violence).

2017 — Kicker Josh Brown suspended six games (domestic violence).

2017 — Bengals cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones suspended one game (assault). Jones was suspended six games in 2008 and for one season in 2007 (multiple violations of personal conduct policy).

2015 — Cowboys defensive Greg Hardy suspended 10 games (domestic violence). Arbitrator Harold Henderson later reduced suspension to four games.

2014 — Baltimore running back Ray Rice suspended indefinitely (domestic violence).

2014 — Defensive lineman Aldon Smith suspended nine games (violations of personal conduct policy and substance abuse policy). Also suspended in 2015 (violations of the league’s substance abuse policy). Reinstated in 2020.

2014 — Vikings running back Adrian Peterson suspended indefinitely (child abuse case). Reinstated in 2015.

2010 — Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suspended six games (accusation of sexual assault by two women). Suspension later reduced to four games by Commissioner Roger Goodell.

2008 — Vikings offensive lineman Bryant McKinnie suspended four games (arrested on aggravated battery charges after a street brawl outside a nightclub).

2007 — Falcons quarterback Michael Vick suspended indefinitely (dogfighting). Reinstated by Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2009.

2007 — Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson suspended eight games (gun charge).

2007 — Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry suspended eight games (multiple violations of personal conduct policy).

On this list, Watson's 11 games stand out.

"This is the highest levied penalty both in number of games and fine under the NFL's personal conduct policy," said Case Western Reserve University sports law professor Aaron Caputo.

With the 11-games finally determined, Caputo said it brings clarity to the situation overall.

"And so now there's discipline and there's clarity," he said. "Everyone knows what's happening. There will not be a lawsuit. And both parties can kind of move forward and try and put this behind them.

Caputo also said the 11 games was a middle ground decision.

CWRU law professor Aaron Caputo speaks on Deshaun Watson suspension

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