CLEVELAND (WJW) — Cleveland quarterback Deshaun Watson was suspended for 11 games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy following accusations of sexual misconduct made against him by two dozen women in Texas when he played for Houston.
The harsher penalty came after the league appealed the original six-game suspension.
The Fox 8 I-Team has reported 24 women sued Watson, claiming sexual misconduct during massage sessions. Watson settled 23 of the 24 lawsuits. Details of the settlements are confidential.
About half of the women who filed lawsuits spoke to league investigators. Watson also spent several days talking to NFL investigators.
Watson and his attorneys have said he cooperated fully with investigators. Watson has maintained the allegations made against him were false.
Ten women filed criminal reports against him. Nine of the cases were presented to a Harris County Grand Jury. One case was presented to a grand jury in Brazoria County. Both grand juries declined to indict Watson on any criminal charges.
NFL player suspensions in recent history
The NFL has punished several players for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, some without criminal charges. Overall, more than 20 players have received suspensions for violating the personal conduct policy since 2014.
Some of those include:
The league promised to get tougher against players accused of violence against women following fallout from the 2014 case of Ray Rice, former Baltimore Ravens star running back. At that time, Roger Goodell announced a new league policy for domestic violence and other assaults. First-time offenders would be suspended at least six games, and a second offense would draw a lifetime ban.
Rice was initially suspended two games for an altercation with his future wife in a hotel elevator. After video emerged of Rice knocking her out and dragging her body out of the elevator, the league suspended him indefinitely.
Rice won an appeal and was reinstated two months later but never played in the league again. The NFL also reported he entered a pretrial intervention program. Under the program, he wouldn’t be prosecuted, and the charges were to be expunged after one year.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for six games back in April 2010 after violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. He was accused of sexual assault by two women. Goodell later reduced the suspension to four games.
The recently retired two-time Super Bowl champion was not charged in either case and didn’t appeal the league’s suspension.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott received a six-game suspension in 2017 for using “physical force” against his former girlfriend three times in a span of five days resulting in injuries to her face, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, wrists, hips and knees.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston got three games for a sexual harassment accusation in 2018 when he played for Tampa.
As a Browns player, he was suspended for the first two games of the 2013 season for substance abuse policy violations. He was traded to New England in September 2018. He has been in and out of the league since.
The NFL indefinitely suspended the then-Seahawks wide receiver in December 2019 for violating league policies on performance enhancers. He’d been reinstated that August after having been suspended indefinitely in December 2018.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt, a former Kansas City Chiefs running back and Willoughby South High School star, made headlines after he was seen on video hitting and kicking a woman at a hotel in Cleveland in February 2018. He was also involved in an altercation at a resort in Ohio.
The Chiefs released him in November 2018. The Browns signed him the following Feburary. He then signed a two-year contract extension with the team in 2020.
Hunt was suspended for eight games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Criminal charges were not filed against him in the case.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley was suspended for the 2022 season for betting on NFL games in 2021. The suspension was for activity that took place while Ridley was away from the team addressing mental health concerns. The league says the suspension will carry “through at least the conclusion of the 2022 season.”
The NFL says the betting took place during a five-day period in late November 2021. Ridley may petition for reinstatement after Feb. 23, 2023.
Other suspensions include:
2021 — Running back Derrius Guice suspended six games (domestic violence).
2020 — Wide receiver Antonio Brown suspended eight games (multiple violations of personal conduct policy).
2019 — Seattle defensive lineman Jarran Reed suspended six games (assault accusation).
2019 — Raiders guard Richie Incognito suspended two games (disorderly conduct).
2018 — Seattle linebacker Mychal Kendricks suspended eight games (insider trading).
2018 — Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith suspended four games (domestic violence).
2017 — Kicker Josh Brown suspended six games (domestic violence).
2017 — Bengals cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones suspended one game (assault). Jones was suspended six games in 2008 and for one season in 2007 (multiple violations of personal conduct policy).
2015 — Cowboys defensive Greg Hardy suspended 10 games (domestic violence). Arbitrator Harold Henderson later reduced suspension to four games.
2014 — Defensive lineman Aldon Smith suspended nine games (violations of personal conduct policy and substance abuse policy). Also suspended in 2015 (violations of the league’s substance abuse policy). Reinstated in 2020.
2014 — Vikings running back Adrian Peterson suspended indefinitely (child abuse case). Reinstated in 2015.
2008 — Vikings offensive lineman Bryant McKinnie suspended four games (arrested on aggravated battery charges after a street brawl outside a nightclub).
2007 — Falcons quarterback Michael Vick suspended indefinitely (dogfighting). Reinstated by Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2009.
2007 — Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson suspended eight games (gun charge).
2007 — Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry suspended eight games (multiple violations of personal conduct policy).