CLEVELAND — A decision has been made regarding Deshaun Watson’s suspension — he will be suspended for six games — but how did this begin?
The public drama surrounding Deshaun Watson began in January 2021, just months after signing a new contract with the Houston Texans, he asked for a trade. Within weeks, the controversy turned to Waston's off-the-field behavior. In March 2021, the first lawsuit accusing the quarterback of sexual misconduct during a massage session was filed in a Houston court. It was the first of what would eventually grow to two dozen women filing suit against Watson.
His attorney maintained Watson did nothing wrong, but the quarterback didn't take the field last year for the Texans as the investigations into the women's claims continued.
In March 2022, two separate Texas grand juries declined criminal charges against Watson.
Outside the courthouse, the quarterback broke his silence.
"Thank you and I just stay my lord and savior and just got to keep fighting the rebuild my name and rebuild my appearance in the community," said Watson. "We’re going to continue to, on the legal side of the field, handle what we need to handle but also get ready to get back on the field."
Four days later, Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam flew to Houston to meet with Watson only to be told days later that the quarterback had eliminated Cleveland from contention. But Watson changed course, and the Browns announced a trade for the 26-year-old quarterback.
"We as an organization know that this transaction has been very difficult for many people, particularly women in our community," Browns General Manager Andrew Berry said after the trade. The Browns signed Watson to a record five-year, $230 million guaranteed contract despite the ongoing NFL investigation into Watson's behavior.
"We are going to make sure we are going to get to the bottom of the facts and make sure that how it applies to personal conduct policy," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
In his introductory news conference on March 25, the new face of the Browns repeatedly insisted he did nothing wrong.
"I can’t speak on what people’s opinions are because everyone has their own opinions," said Watson, "but what I can continue to do is tell the truth, and that is I’ve never assaulted or disrespected or harassed any woman in my life."
A total of 24 civil lawsuits were filed against Watson, with 23 of them getting settled.
On August 1, it was announced that Watson would be suspended for six games and would not be fined.