Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was reportedly handed a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy after more than a dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct, prompting fierce backlash on social media over what is being perceived as a lenient ruling.
Former federal judge Sue L. Robinson issued a 15-page conclusion that found Watson violated the policy, but there was not enough evidence to justify an indefinite suspension, ESPN reported.
The NFLPA released a statement Sunday night in anticipation of the ruling that it would stand by Robinson’s decision and urged the NFL to “do the same.”
“A former federal judge – appointed jointly by the NFLPA and NFL – held a full and fair hearing, has read thousands of pages of investigative documents and reviewed arguments from both sides impartially,” the statement read. “Every player, owner, business partner, and stakeholder deserves to know that our process is legitimate and will not be tarnished based on the whims of the League office.”
“That is why, regardless of her decision, Deshaun and the NFLPA will stand by her ruling, and we call on the NFL to do the same.”
However, the reaction on social media was seemingly not a positive one – drawing comparisons to the NFL’s full-season suspension of Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley and others.
Watson had recently settled 23 of the 24 lawsuits in Texas in which he was accused of sexual assault, according to the attorney representing the women. In July, the Houston Texans settled with 30 women after the team was accused of ignoring concerns and enabling Watson. Terms of the settlement remained confidential.
The NFL, which previously called for an indefinite suspension, could still appeal the ruling.
Fox News’ Ryan Gaydos contributed to this report.