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NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson, who on Monday morning handed down a six-game suspension to Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, offered commentary to explain her decision, per a source.
And some of it feels weird.
Robinson in portions of her 16-page decision read by a source said Watson’s “pattern of behavior was egregious,” which is seemingly accurate considering the feelings and reactions it got from the 24 alleged victims who filed suit against the player, four of them also filing criminal complaints.
But Robinson struck a balance in determining punishment for this violation of the NFL Conduct Policy by labeling it as “nonviolent sexual behavior.”
So although Robinson in one session notably placed his penis in one of the massage therapist’s hand, without her consent, that apparently was mitigated by Watson doing so in a “nonviolent manner.”
Remember, this is how alleged victim Ashley Solis described to Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel how her session with Watson went:
“As I’m working, he deliberately grabs himself and put his penis on my hand. And I pulled my hand away instantly and I started crying. And I told him that I’m done. I don’t wanna do this anymore,” Solis said.
That may not be violent in its classic definition but it is definitely aggressive.
Watson, meanwhile, continually maintained he did nothing wrong and never disrespected any of the alleged victims. Two grand juries declined to return a criminal indictment on the matter and Watson settled lawsuits with 23 of 24 litigants who sued him.
This verdict feels like a relative win for Watson and the Cleveland Browns. Yes, they have a perpetual mark against them for “egregious” behavior, but Robinson decided his actions did not rise to requiring a season-long suspension and says so in her decision.
And that will come and go by October.
The Watson legal team and the NFLPA were hoping for a suspension lasting between 4 games or less. The Browns expected a suspension between 6-8 games, per a club source.
The league has three days to appeal this decision and commissioner Roger Goodell has the ability to be the deciding appeals officer or designate someone of his choice if he chooses.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero