Deshaun Watson admitted in a deposition to contracting “about 40” massage therapists during his time with the Houston Texans but the New York Times reported the number was actually 66. And those were stunning numbers even to other NFL players familiar with needing such work done on their bodies.
Well, Watson’s massage therapist hunting days are over.
Or at least NFL independent discipline officer Sue L. Robinson wants it that way.
As part of her 16-page report outlining the reasons for a six-game suspension of Watson, Robinson is ordering Watson limit his therapy sessions to Cleveland Browns-approved therapists.
“Recognizing that the only discipline mentioned in the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) is a fine or suspension, I nevertheless believe it is appropriate for Mr. Watson to limit his massage therapy to Club-directed sessions and Club-approved massage therapists for the duration of his career, and so impose this mandate as a condition of his reinstatement,” Robinson wrote in the conclusion of her ruling, leaked to various sources.
Robinson also ordered Watson have “no adverse involvement with law enforcement, and must not commit any additional violations of the policy,” although she laid out no penalty if he does so.
So this begs questions:
Assuming Watson and the Browns agree to this clause in order to be reinstated, who keeps tabs on this? Who polices this, in other words?
How will the NFL know Watson isn’t on his Instagram contacting massage therapists for private sessions, as he did when he was with the Texans?
This clause seems to include the Browns for being responsible for Watson’s activities while on team-approved therapy sessions because, well, they set those up.
And what happens if Watson, who signed a five-year deal with the Browns that expires after the 2026 season is traded or goes to another team?
Does the new team pick up responsibility for Watson’s massage schedule? Or are the Browns responsible for this (hard to imagine) as long as Watson remains in the league.
Finally, in the unfortunate instance Watson does encounter an “adverse involvement” with law enforcement, what happens next? Is he automatically suspended again based on agreeing to this clause or reinstatement?
Or does he get a new hearing with an NFL disciplinary officer who can add this in deciding whatever future punishment for a violation of the league’s Personal Conduct Policy is in question?
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero