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The six-game suspension given to Deshaun Watson on Monday was ripped by the National Organization for Women (NOW) hours after the ruling was announced.
Former federal judge Sue L. Robinson made her decision and levied the suspension on the Cleveland Browns quarterback. The NFL has three days to appeal the ruling. Watson faced two dozen civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault. He settled 23 of them. He also avoided criminal charges by two grand juries in Texas.
NOW called the ruling “unacceptable, insulting and dangerous — but not surprising.”
“The NFL and the multi-billion-dollar sports industry have a vested interest in enabling sexual misconduct, assault, and violence,” the women’s group said in a press release. “They even wrote it into Deshaun Watson’s $230 million contract!
“The Browns knew that their star recruit would be suspended for at least part of this year’s season because of his record of sex offenses, and so they restructured his contract to make the majority of his $46 million first-year payout a ‘signing bonus,’ not tied to him playing actual games.”
The organization called on the NFL to “change its business model” moving forward.
“Deshaun Watson must not be allowed to profit from his horrific behavior, and the NFL must change its business model that allows, enables, and hides sexual misconduct into one that respects women and holds abusers accountable,” the group said.
“Shame on the Cleveland Browns for rewarding Deshaun Watson and shame on the NFL for perpetuating a system where money talks, and women aren’t heard.”
Should the NFL decide to appeal, Watson could return in Week 7 against the Baltimore Ravens.
The game would be set for Oct. 23 in Baltimore. It’s the same month as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Domestic Violence Awareness Month.