BEREA, Ohio — Browns fans have been waiting months for a resolution in the case of quarterback Deshaun Watson, with uncertainty surrounding the team's situation under center since he was traded to Cleveland in March. Now that disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson has issued her decision of a six-game suspension with no fine, fans are beginning to figure out where they stand.
As Watson ran across the field at Monday's training camp practice session, he was greeted with many cheers from fans on the sidelines.
"I’m okay with it, I’ll take it. We just need to move forward, it's over we can't change the past, just move forward and play football. That's all we need to do at this point," said one fan who was cheering Watson on through practice.
His wife, on the other hand, wasn't so sold.
"I have mixed feelings about it obviously. I think he could do things a little differently, which I’m hoping he learns from that," she said. "Six games—I am a Browns fans so I'd like to see our team move forward. I'm hoping that everybody deals with it the same way, let's move forward...I'm sorry to see what happened but again, just like my husband said, I want to move forward, I want to see the Browns succeed."
Another woman, who was at practice with her family to celebrate her birthday, was thrilled that a decision was made in general, and was satisfied with the ruling of six games.
“We’re just obviously happy everything with Deshaun is hopefully over and the NFL doesn't take it back to them and add more games," she said. "We’re here to root on the Browns, it’s going to be a great year."
While the subject of Watson's suspension—which stems from him violating the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy over 24 allegations of sexual misconduct filed against him in lawsuits—may closely resonate with the Browns' female fanbase, there are also plenty of male fans who are still navigating their feelings about the situation.
"To sit here and say it doesn't affect me—just knowing females, having females in my life, sisters, aunts, mother—I was disappointed," one man said. "But you also have to weigh the facts versus what you're hearing. But honestly, I'm happy for him, six games, he'll sit back, reflect on what he did—I don't know, but we're ready for him. We'll always root for our quarterback. That's the beauty about the city of Cleveland and whoever's playing for us at quarterback, we'll be behind them."
Outside of Browns country in Berea, the reaction was a bit different. One woman said she just "didn't know" how to feel. Another man voiced his anger about Watson's six-game suspension, adamant
that it should have been longer.
"After what happened to Trevor Bauer, it's hard to understand what in the world is going on here. What are they trying to accomplish?" he said. "They put these guys out there and are as entitled as any human being can be and think they can do anything. These are supposedly the people we are holding up for our kids to emulate going forward. It's ridiculous."
The mixed emotion from fans is something that the team understood as a possibility, and following practice head coach Kevin Stefanski spoke about that reality.
"I feel incredible empathy for anyone who has been impacted by this decision. It's something that I don't take lightly. I've spoken to women in our organization. I've spoken to women in the community. That's something that I will continue to do," Stefanski said. "Our fans, whether you're a man or a woman, our fans are really important to us so I want to make sure that they understand that and that they are never going to be dismissed in any way.”
The situation is a complicated one that clearly comes with complicated feelings. With the NFL having three days to file an appeal on the decision from Robinson regarding Watson's suspension, there's still a chance six games is not the final ruling—and if things change, so might many fans' feelings on the matter.
Camryn Justice is a reporter at News 5 Cleveland. Follow her on Twitter @camijustice.
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