The NFLPA will “vigorously” defend Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson if he is suspended by the NFL, according to a report by Mike Florio of NBC Sports.
Attorney Tony Buzbee is in the process of filing two more lawsuits against Browns’ quarterback Deshaun Watson, and a total of 26 women have now come forward to accuse Watson of inappropriate contact with them during massage therapy sessions. Watson claims innocence against all the allegations, but a lengthy suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy is still looming for him. It’s possible that Watson could be suspended for the entire 2022 season by the NFL.
Florio adds that the NFLPA’s defense of Watson will take specific aim at the league’s handling of Commanders owner Daniel Snyder, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. The argument will be that the punishment of Watson is not corresponding to the punishment of those owners, as the personal conduct policy states that owners are held to higher standards. “Ownership and club or league management have traditionally been held to a higher standard and will be subject to more significant discipline when violations of the Personal Conduct Policy occur.”
In July of 2021, the NFL fined the Washington Commanders $10 million for sexual misconduct by former team employees. The money was donated to charity. Snyder was not suspended and the team did not loss any draft picks. However, Snyder stepped down from day-to-day operations to focus on a new stadium and “other matters.” Snyder essentially got a slap on the wrist by the NFL after an investigation found numerous acts of sexual misconduct and a toxic environment in Washington.
Kraft received no punishment despite allegedly receiving sex acts at a message parlor. Kraft was charged with solicitation, but the case was dismissed based on the fact that the video surveillance utilized by law enforcement violated the rights of the various persons who were secretly recorded.
As for Jones, the league did not investigate the voyeurism scandal involving former Cowboys P.R. chief Rich Dalrymple. Dalrymple allegedly secretly recording multiple cheerleaders while they changed their clothes. The Cowboys paid a confidential settlement of $2.4 million to four cheerleaders, according to documents obtained by ESPN. Each of the women received $399,523.27 after the incident.
Florio claims that this approach by the NFLPA would be separate from defending Watson against any wrongdoing. It would be based on whether, even if he violated the policy with a habit of arranging private massages and trying to make those massages become sexual encounters, any punishment of Watson must be justified by the punishment imposed on Snyder, the non-punishment imposed on Kraft, and the lack of even an investigation toward Jones.