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Texans quarterback DeShaun Watson, who is facing 10 criminal complaints from women who have gone to the Houston police with their concerns and 22 total sexual assault lawsuits, took the field Wednesday at training camp. In a statement issued on Tuesday, the league stated that Watson won’t face participation restrictions at camp while under investigation for his alleged conduct with massage therapists.
“The NFL’s review of the serious allegations against Deshaun Watson remains ongoing and active. We are working cooperatively with the Houston Police Department and ensuring that the NFL’s inquiry does not interfere with their investigation,” the league stated.
“As we continue to gather additional information and monitor law enforcement developments, we will make appropriate decisions consistent with the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Personal Conduct Policy.
“At this time, there are no restrictions on Watson’s participation in club activities.”
Texans QB DeShaun Watson taking snaps. He took the field in his red #4 jersey but took it off before he joined the other QBs pic.twitter.com/lISi4652Os
— Steve Wyche (@wyche89) July 28, 2021
— Matt Musil (@KHOUSportsMatt) July 28, 2021
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has the power to place Watson on the Commissioner Exempt List if he is “formally” charged with a felony offense, commits a crime of violence using physical force, engaged in sexual assault by force or engaged in “conduct that poses a genuine danger to the safety or well-being of another person.”
The exemption list language also allows Goodell to place a player on that list “when an investigation leads the Commissioner to believe that a player may have violated this Policy by committing any of the conduct identified above, he may act where the circumstances and evidence warrant doing so.”
Going even further into the contract language, Goodell could place Watson on the list for a case “in which a violation relating to a crime of violence is alleged but further investigation is required.”
Even with all that language, here we are with Watson on the field and taking part in team activities. So far, it doesn’t seem like the Texans want to pull the trigger and tell their trade bait that he needs to stay home. The NFL’s not telling him to stay home. The Houston police department just got criminal complaints, so they’re off doing their thing, and now Watson is at camp in a hoodie doing his best to hide out from cameras.
Here's the language in the 2020 personal conduct policy regarding use of the commissioner's exempt list. The NFL hasn't used the designation with Deshaun Watson, indicating the league's ongoing investigation hasn't led Roger Goodell to believe a major violation occurred. pic.twitter.com/bKwiKPS7Ow
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 25, 2021
— Full Press NFL (@FullPressNFL) July 28, 2021