The Cleveland Browns’ top brass reacted to the decision to suspend Deshaun Watson for six games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy on Monday.
Former federal judge Sue L. Robinson issued her discipline after an investigation into the 24 civil lawsuits Watson faced accusing him of sexual assault. Watson settled with 23 of the 24 accusers.
Browns co-owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam released a joint statement on the Watson matter. Head coach Kevin Stefanski also commented on it during his media availability at training camp.
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“Throughout this process, Deshaun and his representatives have abided by the newly created and agreed upon process for the NFLPA and the NFL to defer to the objective Judge Sue L. Robinson to comprehensively review all information and make a fair decision,” the Haslams said.
“We respect Judge Robinson’s decision, and at the same time, empathize and understand that there have been many individuals triggered throughout this process. We know Deshaun is remorseful that this situation has caused much heartache to many and he will continue the work needed to show who he is on and off the field, and we will continue to support him.”
Stefanksi reiterated he would respect Robinson’s decision at this time.
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He was pressed on whether Watson had truly shown remorse for his alleged actions, which was mentioned in Robinson’s that he didn’t even as the Haslams said he did in their statement. Watson has denied any wrongdoing and noted since joining the Browns he was working on clearing his name.
“I was on the practice field so I have not read the entire report, but I believe Deshaun has told you guys in a press conference and he has told me privately he wants to be the best version of himself,” Stefanski said. “I believe that whole heartedly. He is working on that. I will let Deshaun at some point speak for himself.”
When asked why he believes that, he replied he would let Watson “speak for himself” on that.
“But I think just in my time with him and being around him, I have seen a person who both publicly and privately has said that he wants to be the best version of himself,” Stefanski added.
As for the message the report sent to female Browns fans, Stefanski said he felt empathetic “for anyone who has been impacted by this decision.”
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“It is something that I do not take lightly. I have spoken to women in our organization. I have spoken to women in the community. That is something that I will continue to do. Our fans, whether you are a man or a woman, our fans are really important to us so I want to make sure that they understand that and that they are never going to be dismissed in any way,” he said.
Watson was seen signing autographs and greeting Browns fans at training camp. Stefanski said he didn’t see the commotion from fans around the quarterback.
“I will be honest, I did not really notice. I believe you if you say so. Our fans have been outstanding supporters throughout this whole camp,” he said. “I am not surprised at the numbers that are out here. I am not surprised by how enthusiastic they are. As you know, we did not have any fans in 2020, and we had about half the size of the fans in 2021, so it is nice to see a full group out here and nice to see a lot of kids out here, as well.”
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The NFL could appeal Robinson’s decision to levy a six-game suspension. The league has three days to decide.