Note: This story contains accounts of sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or at https://www.rainn.org
When the Cleveland Browns first announced their 2022 training camp schedule, it was fair to wonder if star quarterback Deshaun Watson would be in attendance? For those who may not know, Watson has been accused by numerous women of sexual misconduct or sexual assault during massage appointments. According to Jenny Vrentas of the New York Times, Watson met with at least 66 women for massage appointments over a period of 17 months from 2019 to 2021. The majority of the women, all represented by attorney Tony Buzbee, are suing the quarterback. Sure, some of the women have already settled out of court with Watson but four civil lawsuits against the Cleveland signal-caller remain. As of June 13, two more were being processed.
Despite what most fans online may want to believe, some of these women are likely telling the truth and deserve to be believed and heard. Despite media members carrying water for Watson and the Browns on Twitter spaces and elsewhere, it's clear that all parties bear culpability in this and the punishment handed down by the league should be severe and set a precedent for such ghastly circumstances. A month ago, Right Down Euclid said that Watson deserves a year-long suspension. Based on reports, it appears the NFL agrees to an extent.
According to Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal, the NFL is looking to hand down an indefinite suspension lasting no less than one year under the league's personal-conduct policy. According to the report, an answer on Watson's future in the NFL is expected to occur during the week of July 4, if not sooner. An arbitration hearing between Watson and the league will occur this upcoming week. The initial ruling will be made by a neutral arbitrator, former U.S. District Court Judge Sue Robinson.
The NFL's belief that it can impose the strictest punishment in league history is based on its investigation over the last year, the breadth of the allegations against him and some accusations that NFL officials have concluded are particularly damning. Even though a year-long suspension is a bare minimum of what the league will accept, the NFL is shooting for more.
An indefinite suspension would give the league the ability to keep Watson away from the game for a longer time if further developments arise, such as an increase in accusations against him. With how they've continued to manifest as time has gone on, this feels like a safe assumption on the NFL's part. The NFL and NFL Player's Association will continue to negotiate Watson's suspension terms, but that has not led to a resolution up to this point. In addition, the NFLPA is prepared to fight any decision handed down, especially one that's as long as the league is hoping for.
Don't get your hopes up for the Browns reuniting with former quarterback Baker Mayfield. Like Taylor Swift, they are never getting back together. Photo credit: Jason Miller/Stringer via Getty Images.
Despite the ongoing battle between the NFL and NFLPA, it appears that Watson will not be under center for Cleveland's season opener in Charlotte against the Panthers. When he does make his debut, it could be a vastly different situation than what he signed up for after signing a five-year, $230 million record contract. With that said, what will Watson come back to in Cleveland? More importantly, where do the Browns go from here?
One popular fan theory that gets kicked around is for Cleveland to get back together with their ex in Baker Mayfield. To be frank, that will not ever happen. the Browns playing the most shameless and grimy version of The Bachelor for the world to watch, Mayfield included, burned that bridge beyond repair. Granted, Mayfield's play last season and conduct on and off the field did make an upgrade seem much more viable.
But, like a Taylor Swift song, Mayfield and the Browns are never getting back together. That means Cleveland will have to turn to journeyman backup Jacoby Brissett, who last played with the Miami Dolphins. Brissett is a mobile, strong-armed quarterback who has been a fairly average starter in this league but has played very well at times. Most years that’s not enough to guide a team into the playoffs, but it would have been with the Browns last year, and maybe it could be again this year.
Brissett’s best year as a professional came back in 2019 with the Indianapolis Colts. He guided the team to a 7-8 record during his 15 starts while throwing for 2,942 yards, 18 touchdowns, and six interceptions. If he can replicate those numbers, the Browns should be able to at least contend for a postseason berth. With the Browns having a relatively easy slate to open the season, opening up with the Panthers, followed by dates with the Jets, Steelers, and Falcons, the team should be at least 3-1 to start, if not 4-0. That, combined with what should be a relatively strong defensive unit, should give Cleveland a chance at the very least at making a push towards the playoffs with Brissett under center.
Mind you, even if they make the playoffs with Brissett that still doesn't mean that the Browns will be winning the Super Bowl next season. But, for the team to completely corrupt any semblance of morality and risk it all, it's a small silver lining. Granted, a lot of this can change based on how long Watson is suspended. But, if he's suspended for the season, which he should be, the Browns will be alright with Brissett at quarterback.
Featured image credit: Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images
Evan Dammarell is a sports journalist covering all things Cleveland right off the shores of Lake Erie. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Did you enjoy this edition of Right Down Euclid? You can get it in your inbox two to three times a week by subscribing here. All it takes is either your Facebook account or email address!