Aug 21, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Gardner Minshew (10) throws the ball against the Cleveland Browns during the second quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Gardner Minshew helps Eagles edge Browns

Gardner Minshew completed 14 of 17 passes for 142 yards to help the visiting Philadelphia Eagles beat the Cleveland Browns 21-20 Sunday in a preseason game.

Kenneth Gainwell led the Eagles (1-1) in rushing with 46 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries, and Deon Cain had team highs of five catches for 66 yards.

For the Browns (1-1), Joshua Dobbs started at quarterback and completed 14 of 20 throws for 141 yards, and backup Josh Rosen was 7-of-20 for 88 yards.

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, who was suspended for 11 games last week for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy amid accusations of sexual misconduct, did not play.

Even though Watson’s suspension doesn’t begin until Aug. 30, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Thursday the quarterback won’t play again in the preseason. He started in the Browns’ 24-13 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Aug. 12 but completed just one of five passes for 7 yards.

Watson will be eligible to return to the Browns on Dec. 4 for their Week 13 game against the Houston Texans, his former team. He will be permitted to begin practicing again on Nov. 14.

–Field Level Media

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 smiles during the first quarter of a preseason NFL game Friday, Aug. 12, 2022 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. The Cleveland Browns defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-13. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]

Jacksonville Jaguars 2022 Cleveland Browns First Home Pre Season Scrimmage Second Scrimmage Preseason

Browns’ playoff odds lengthen after Deshaun Watson suspension

The Cleveland Browns’ odds to win Super Bowl LVII took a hit following Thursday’s announcement that quarterback Deshaun Watson will miss the first 11 games.

Watson, represented by the NFLPA, and the NFL settled on the punishment after the league appealed an initial six-game suspension that was rendered from an investigation into the allegations.

The initial suspension was handed down by former U.S. district Judge Sue L. Robinson, picked by the league and the NFLPA as an independent disciplinary officer.

Several sportsbooks told Field Level Media that their oddsmakers quickly adjusted the Browns’ futures odds following the announcement.

Cleveland’s Super Bowl odds lengthened from +3000 to +4000 at BetRivers, from +3300 to +5000 at PointsBet and from +2500 to +3000 at WynnBet. The Browns did remain unchanged at +3000 at FanDuel.

With the Browns having a bye in Week 9, they will be without Watson until at least Week 13 in December — when Cleveland travels to play his former team in Houston.

Veteran journeyman Jacoby Brissett is slated to start in Watson’s place until then.

That figures to make reaching the playoffs in the highly competitive AFC a real challenge, much less playing in the Super Bowl.

The Browns moved from +275 to win the AFC North to +400 at BetRivers, where their odds to win the AFC Championship also lengthened from +1600 to +2000.

WynnBet shifted the Browns’ conference title odds from +1200 to +1500 and their division title odds from +275 to +3000.

PointsBet adjusted a number of futures markets for both Cleveland and Watson:
–Super Bowl: +3300 to +5000
–AFC Championship: +1800 to +2500
–Over 8.5 wins: -110 to +135
–Make Playoffs: +150 to +200
–Deshaun Watson MVP +10000 to +25000
–Deshaun Watson Comeback POY: +10000 to +25000

In the Browns’ 24-13 preseason victory over Jacksonville last week, Watson completed just one of his five pass attempts for 7 yards.

Watson, 26, said in a press conference following the NFL announcement on Thursday that he was ready to move forward with his career.

“I’ve always been able to stand on my innocence and always said I never assaulted or disrespected anyone,” Watson said Thursday. “But at the same point I have to continue to push forward with my life and career.”

Cleveland acquired Watson from Houston over the offseason and signed him to a five-year, $230 million contract.

“I’m grateful that the disciplinary process has ended and extremely appreciative of the tremendous support I have received throughout my short time with the Browns organization,” Watson said in a statement. “I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused. I take accountability for the decisions I made.

“My focus going forward is on working to become the best version of myself on and off the field and supporting my teammates however possible while I’m away from the team. I’m excited about what the future holds for me in Cleveland.”

Watson has completed 67.8 percent of his career passes for 14,539 yards and 104 touchdowns with 36 interceptions. He led the league with 4,823 passing yards in 2020. He also has rushed for 1,677 yards and 17 scores while posting a 28-25 regular-season record as a starter.

–Field Level Media

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 looks on during the first quarter of a preseason NFL game Friday, Aug. 12, 2022 at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. The Cleveland Browns defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-13. [Corey Perrine/Florida Times-Union]

Jacksonville Jaguars 2022 Cleveland Browns First Home Pre Season Scrimmage Second Scrimmage Preseason

Browns QB Deshaun Watson suspended 11 games, fined $5M

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson received an 11-game suspension and $5 million fine for off-field conduct violations related to “predatory” behavior involving more than two dozen women who alleged sexual assault and other inappropriate behavior.

Watson, represented by the NFLPA, and the NFL settled on the punishment after the league appealed an initial six-game suspension was rendered from an investigation into the allegations.

The NFL will confirm compliance with the agreement. Watson is first eligible for reinstatement on Nov. 28.

“Deshaun has committed to doing the hard work on himself that is necessary for his return to the NFL,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said Thursday. “This settlement requires compliance with a professional evaluation and treatment plan, a significant fine, and a more substantial suspension. We are grateful to Judge (Sue L.) Robinson and Peter Harvey for their efforts in addressing these matters, which laid the foundation for reaching this conclusion.”

Goodell said the NFL and Browns will each donate $1 million to create a new fund “that will support the work of non-profit organizations across the country that educate young people on healthy relationships, promote education and prevention of sexual misconduct and assault, support survivors, and related causes.”

Watson, 26, said in a press conference following the NFL announcement on Thursday that he was ready to move forward with his career.

“I’ve always been able to stand on my innocence and always said I never assaulted or disrespected anyone,” Watson said. “But at the same point I have to continue to push forward with my life and career.”

Watson recently offered an apology “to all of the women that I have impacted in this situation” but previously had maintained that he had “no regrets” about his actions during massage sessions where the alleged wrongdoing took place.

“I’m grateful that the disciplinary process has ended and extremely appreciative of the tremendous support I have received throughout my short time with the Browns organization,” Watson said in a statement released Thursday by the Browns. “I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused. I take accountability for the decisions I made. My focus going forward is on working to become the best version of myself on and off the field and supporting my teammates however possible while I’m away from the team. I’m excited about what the future holds for me in Cleveland.”

Browns co-owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam offered the following statement:

“As we have previously conveyed, Deshaun and his representatives have abided by the NFL and NFLPA structure awaiting a final decision and we have respected the process. “Now that a decision on discipline has been reached, we understand that a decision on discipline has been reached, we understand this is a real opportunity to create meaningful change and we are committed to investing in programs in Northeast Ohio that will educate our youth regarding awareness, understanding, and most importantly, prevention of sexual misconduct and the many underlying causes of such behavior.”

The Browns acquired Watson via trade from the Houston Texans and signed him to a five-year, $230 million contract in the offseason. Watson reached financial settlements with most of the women involved.

When the suspension ends, Watson would be eligible make his regular-season debut with the Browns in Week 13 at Houston in December. The Browns have a bye in Week 9.

Until then, Jacoby Brissett is slated to start for the Browns.

Robinson, a former U.S. district judge, picked by the league and the NFLPA as an independent disciplinary officer, handed down a six-game suspension earlier this month. The NFL appealed Robinson’s decision, wanting Watson to be suspended for a full season. Harvey, a former New Jersey attorney general, was chosen by Goodell to hear the appeal. Goodell said the “evidence” called for more than a six-game ban.

Two women filed criminal complaints against the then-Texans quarterback, and 25 leveled lawsuits against him. Watson did not play in 2021 amid the scandal and his desire to be traded.

One woman dropped her lawsuit, and the quarterback has settled, or come to terms on settlements, with all but one of the others.

“Each and every snap, I want to make sure I cherish that because I’m not sure when the next time I’ll be able to get out there with those guys,” Watson said Friday after playing for the first time with the Browns in a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Watson has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 14,539 yards and 104 touchdowns with 36 interceptions. He led the league with 4,823 passing yards in 2020. He also has rushed for 1,677 yards and 17 scores in his career, and he owns a 28-25 regular-season record as a starter.

In three postseason games, following the 2018 and 2019 seasons, he went 1-2 while completing 80 of 126 passes for 870 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.

In the Browns’ 24-13 victory over the Jaguars on Friday, Watson completed just one of his five pass attempts for 7 yards.

–Field Level Media

Aug 12, 2022; Jacksonville, Florida, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) looks to throw the ball during the first quarter of a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson apologizes to ‘women that I have impacted’

Quarterback Deshaun Watson, who previously maintained that he had “no regrets” about his actions during massage sessions that led to allegations of sexual assault and other inappropriate activities, offered an apology on Friday to the women involved.

Watson, beginning his first season with the Cleveland Browns, was interviewed during the team’s pregame show before its exhibition game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He said he is “truly sorry to all of the women that I have impacted in this situation.”

Beginning what would be his fifth on-field NFL season, Watson made his Cleveland preseason debut in the first half on Friday.

Former U.S. district Judge Sue L. Robinson, picked by the league and the NFL Players Association as an independent disciplinary officer, handed down a six-game suspension to Watson earlier this month. Robinson noted a “lack of expressed remorse” from the 26-year-old quarterback in her decision.

The NFL appealed Robinson’s decision, wanting Watson to be suspended for a full season. Former New Jersey attorney general Peter C. Harvey was chosen by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to hear the appeal.

There is no mandated deadline for when a new ruling would be made, although the league’s bargaining agreement with the players association indicates the decision must be “expedited.”

In the Friday interview, Watson also acknowledged that the “decisions that I made in my life that put me in this position, I would definitely like to have back. But I want to continue to move forward and grow and learn and show that I am a true person of character, and I am going to keep pushing forward.”

Two women filed criminal complaints against the then-Houston Texans quarterback, and 25 leveled lawsuits against him. Watson did not play in 2021 amid the scandal and his desire to be traded.

One woman dropped her lawsuit, and the quarterback has settled, or come to terms on settlements, with all but one of the others.

“Each and every snap, I want to make sure I cherish that because I’m not sure when the next time I’ll be able to get out there with those guys,” he said Friday, referring to the pending suspension.

In March, the Browns gave the Texans three first-round draft picks to acquire Watson, then promptly signed him to a $230 million, five-year contract, which is fully guaranteed.

Watson had signed a four-year, $160 million extension with Houston in September 2020, with $111 million guaranteed.

Watson has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 14,539 yards and 104 touchdowns with 36 interceptions. He led the league with 4,823 passing yards in 2020. He also has rushed for 1,677 yards and 17 scores in his career, and he owns a 28-25 regulars-season record as a starter.

In three postseason games, following the 2018 and 2019 seasons, he went 1-2 while completing 80 of 126 passes for 870 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.

–Field Level Media

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson throws a pass during training camp on Friday, Aug. 5, 2022 in Berea.

Akr 8 5 Browns 1

Deshaun Watson to start Browns’ first preseason game

Deshaun Watson will make his first start in a Cleveland uniform on Friday when the Browns face the Jacksonville Jaguars in their preseason opener.

The Browns said Wednesday in a brief post on their website that most of their starters will play Friday in Jacksonville. Watson, 26, was the only player mentioned by name.

When Watson will make his next start is unclear. After an NFL investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by multiple women, former U.S. district Judge Sue L. Robinson ruled Watson should be suspended six regular-season games without pay for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy.

The league has appealed the decision of Robinson, whom the league and the NFLPA agreed would serve as an independent disciplinary officer. Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday at league meetings in Minneapolis that Watson deserved a longer suspension.

“There were multiple violations that were egregious, and it was predatory behavior,” Goodell said.

Cleveland sent significant draft capital, including three future first-round draft picks, to the Houston Texans in March to acquire Watson. He signed a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract as part of a trade.

All that came under the cloud of allegations of sexual misconduct by two dozen masseuses. Two Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson.

The Browns are expected to start the season with veteran Jacoby Brissett at quarterback. Josh Rosen and Joshua Dobbs are fighting for the backup role.

–Field Level Media

Aug 5, 2022; Canton, OH, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell at the Centennial Plaza. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Commish: ‘Evidence’ begs longer suspension for Deshaun Watson

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday that the “evidence” showing Deshaun Watson’s “predatory behavior” was behind the league’s appeal of a six-game suspension and their push for punishment of at least one year.

Goodell made the comments in Bloomington, Minn., where a special league meeting was held to vote on the sale of the Denver Broncos.

Goodell was asked why the league last week appealed the six-game suspension handed down by former judge and appointed NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson.

“We’ve seen the evidence, she was very clear about the evidence, she reinforced the evidence,” Goodell said. “There were multiple violations that were egregious and it was predatory behavior. Those are things that we always felt were important for us to address in a way that’s responsible.”

Robinson wrote that “the NFL carried its burden to prove … that Mr. Watson engaged in sexual assault.” However, she said the league “is attempting to impose a more dramatic shift in its culture without the benefit of fair notice to — and consistency of consequence for — those in the NFL subject to its policy.”

Goodell tabbed former New Jersey attorney general Peter Harvey to hear the league’s appeal. Goodell said Tuesday he had no timetable for a ruling, which will represent a “full, final and complete disposition of the dispute,” per the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

Goodell was also asked about the punishment handed down to Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, suspended and fined $1.5 million for “tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity.” The Dolphins forfeit a first-round pick in 2023 and a third-round selection in 2024.

Ross and the Dolphins were cleared of tanking, per ex-coach Brian Flores’ allegations. Instead, the league found that Ross and his executives were kidding.

“Integrity of the game’s critically important,” Goodell said Tuesday. “I think the finding was very clear on the tampering charges. While tanking clearly did not happen here, I think we all have to understand that our words and our actions have implications, can be interpreted and we have to be careful.”

NFL owners approved the $4.65 billion sale of the Broncos to Walmart heir Rob Walton and the Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group.

–Field Level Media

Cleveland quarterback Deshaun Watson received a six-game suspension from former judge Sue L. Robinson.

Syndication Usa Today

New York lawyer chosen to hear NFL’s Deshaun Watson appeal

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday tabbed former New Jersey attorney general Peter Harvey to hear the league’s appeal of the six-game suspension of Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Earlier this week, former U.S. district Judge Sue L. Robinson, picked by the league and the NFLPA as an independent disciplinary officer, ruled Watson should be suspended six games without pay for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy after more than two dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct.

He played for the Houston Texans at the time.

Two Texas grand juries decided not to indict Watson on criminal charges, and he has denied any wrongdoing. Still, he has settled 23 of the 24 civil suits brought against him by the women.

On Wednesday, the NFL appealed the decision, reportedly contending Robinson’s recommended suspension wasn’t lengthy enough. Goodell had the option to rule himself on the appeal or appoint a designee.

He chose Harvey, who isn’t a stranger to NFL issues.

Harvey is a partner at the Paterson Belknap firm in New York and previously served as a federal prosecutor. He also has experience in domestic violence and sexual assault cases and has advised the NFL and other pro leagues on creating and implementing workplace policies, including the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

He also serves on the NFL diversity advisory committee.

Goodell has called on Harvey in the past to preside over arbitration cases, and the attorney was part of the committee that suspended Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys for violating the personal conduct policy in 2017.

The league reportedly is seeking an indefinite suspension of at least one year for Watson.

–Field Level Media

Cleveland quarterback Deshaun Watson received a six-game suspension from former judge Sue L. Robinson.

Syndication Akron Beacon Journal

NFL appeals 6-game suspension of Deshaun Watson

The NFL filed an appeal of the six-game suspension recommended for Deshaun Watson, putting itself in position to ultimately decide the punishment the Cleveland Browns quarterback will receive over accusations of sexual misconduct.

Former U.S. district Judge Sue L. Robinson, picked by the league and the NFLPA as an independent disciplinary officer, said Monday that Watson should be suspended six games without pay for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy.

While the union vowed to accept whatever ruling Robinson issued, the league had three days to file an appeal, which came Wednesday afternoon.

The league said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will assign a designee to hear the league’s appeal. That person will issue a “full, final and complete disposition of the dispute,” per the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.

“The NFL notified the NFLPA that it will appeal Judge Robinson’s disciplinary decision and filed its brief this afternoon,” the NFL said in a statement Wednesday.

Robinson wrote Monday that though the penalty is the “most significant 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.”

According to reports, the NFL was pushing for an indefinite suspension that would last through the 2022 season. The NFLPA and Watson have vowed to sue if he is suspended for the season.

Robinson found that there wasn’t enough evidence to support a season-long or indefinite banishment.

“The NFL may be a ‘forward-facing’ organization, but it is not necessarily a forward-looking one,” Robinson wrote. “Just as the NFL responded to violent conduct after a public outcry, so it seems the NFL is responding to a yet another public outcry about Mr. Watson’s conduct.

“At least in the former situation, the policy was changed and applied proactively,” she wrote. “Here, the NFL is attempting to impose a more dramatic shift in its culture without the benefit of fair notice to — and consistency of consequence for — those in the NFL subject to its policy.”

Watson, 26, stood accused of sexual assault and inappropriate misconduct during massage sessions that took place between March 2020 and March 2021.

Watson settled 23 of the 24 sustained lawsuits he faced, including three announced on Monday by plaintiffs’ attorney Tony Buzbee. That includes a settlement with Ashley Solis, the first to sue Watson and the first to go public.

Though two grand juries in Texas decided not to pursue criminal charges against Watson, the NFL has been conducting an independent investigation to determine whether he violated its personal conduct policy.

Robinson’s ruling was made following three days of testimony in Delaware in June.

The Browns traded three first-round picks for Watson in March and signed him to a five-year, $230 million contract — with all money fully guaranteed. They have said Jacoby Brissett would the starting quarterback for the duration of Watson’s suspension.

–Field Level Media

Jul 29, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) talks to quarterback Jacoby Brissett (7) during training camp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Appointee rules 6-game suspension for Deshaun Watson

A former U.S. district judge has ruled that Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson should be suspended six games for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy, ESPN and NFL Network reported Monday.

Judge Sue L. Robinson informed the NFL and NFLPA of her decision, a 15-page conclusion. However, the decision is not yet final.

While the NFLPA vowed Sunday night not to appeal Robinson’s decision, the league has three days to appeal the ruling. If the league appeals, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell – or a designee – would issue a “full, final and complete disposition of the dispute.”

According to CBS Sports, the NFL was pushing for an indefinite suspension that would last through the 2022 season. The NFLPA and Watson had vowed to sue if Watson was suspended for the season.

Robinson found that there wasn’t enough evidence to support a season-long or indefinite banishment, per ESPN.

Robinson’s punishment ruling doesn’t include a fine, per the reports. It also dictates that Watson not have massages other than those prescribed by the Browns.

Watson stood accused of sexual assault and inappropriate misconduct during massage sessions that took place March 2020 and March 2021.

Watson settled 23 of the 24 sustained lawsuits he faced, including three announced on Monday by plaintiffs’ attorney Tony Buzbee.

Though two grand juries in Texas decided not to pursue criminal charges against Watson, the NFL has been conducting an independent investigation to determine whether he violated its personal conduct policy.

Robinson’s ruling was made following three days of testimony in Delaware in June.

The Browns traded three first-round picks for Watson in March and signed him to a five-year, $230 million contract. They have said Jacoby Brissett would the starting quarterback for the duration of Watson’s suspension.

–Field Level Media

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks with head coach Kevin Stefanski after minicamp on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 in Canton, Ohio, at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.

Browns Hof 4

Report: Watson, NFLPA plan to sue if suspended for 2022

Deshaun Watson and the NFL Players Association have already decided to file a federal lawsuit against the NFL if arbitrator Sue L. Robinson decides Watson should be suspended from the league for a full year, Yahoo Sports reported Monday.

It was reported in June that during Watson’s disciplinary hearing, the NFL was pushing for an indefinite suspension lasting at least one year.

Watson, now with the Cleveland Browns, was sued by 24 women who accused him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions when he played for the Houston Texans.

Watson’s camp reached confidential settlements last month with 20 of the 24 women who brought civil lawsuits against him. On Friday, attorney Tony Buzbee, who represented Watson’s accusers, announced that the Texans had reached confidential settlements with the Texans.

Watson has continued to deny wrongdoing, and in March two grand juries in Texas declined to indict him on criminal charges. But he still could be punished by the NFL under its personal conduct policy.

Robinson, a former U.S. District Court judge who was jointly selected to oversee the case by the NFL and the NFL Players Association, was expected to issue a ruling before the Browns report to training camp on July 26. But Yahoo reported Monday that Robinson’s decision might “overlap” with the start of the Browns’ camp.

–Field Level Media