JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Cleveland Browns are on the road gearing up for their first preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and if all goes as planned, their new quarterback, Deshaun Watson, will make his orange and brown debut.
Watson is expected, like most of the starters, to play in Friday's game—starting in the preseason matchup.
That will be the plan barring a major change to Watson's suspension. Currently, Watson and the Browns are awaiting the appeal decision from Peter C. Harvey—Commissioner Roger Goodell's designee to hear the appeal of the decision made by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson which recommended a six-game suspension for Watson with no fine for violating the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy.
Watson, who was under investigation after two dozen women who accused him of sexual assault and harassment, was the first NFL player to have a case heard by Robinson as part of the new league discipline policy agreed upon in the Collective Bargaining Agreement signed in 2020. As per the CBA, violations of the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy are initially determined by a jointly appointed disciplinary officer after serving as the hearing officer.
After a lengthy process and hearing arguments from the NFL, NFLPA and Watson, Robinson came to her decision that Watson should receive a six-game suspension.
"Mr. Watson is hereby suspended for six (6) regular-season games without pay. Although this is the most significant punishment ever imposed on an NFL player for allegations of non-violent sexual conduct, Mr. Watson’s pattern of conduct is more egregious than any before reviewed by the NFL," Robinson wrote.
While Watson and the NFLPA had announced the night before the decision was made that they would not appeal Robinson's decision as was their right, the NFL chose to. The decision is still pending, and is in the NFL's hands entirely now. After originally pursuing an indefinite or year-long suspension, that possibility is back on the table with the appeal process ongoing.
Should Watson receive a year-long or indefinite suspension before Friday's game, he would be ineligible to participate in the game, or any other team activities. If the suspension is changed but is less than that, he could still be eligible to play in the preseason games as well as continue working with the team until the end of training camp.
If Watson does play on Friday, it will mark his first game action since 2020 when he was with the Texans.
The Browns-Jaguars game is set to kickoff Friday at 7 p.m. You can watch here on News 5.
Camryn Justice is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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