Deshaun Watson: Cleveland Browns quarterback suspended for 11 games over sexual misconduct allegations

Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns
The NFL argued Watson should be suspended for at least the entire 2022 season, which starts in September

The NFL has suspended Deshaun Watson for 11 games without pay and fined him $5m after an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against the Cleveland Browns quarterback.

Watson was suspended for six games earlier this month over 24 sexual misconduct claims.

But the league appealed against the ban, hoping for a stiffer sentence for the 26-year-old.

The NFL said Watson must also commit to "mandatory evaluation and treatment".

In a statement posted on the Browns' Twitter accountexternal-link, Watson said he was "grateful" the disciplinary process was over.

"I apologise once again for any pain this situation has caused," he said. "I take accountability for the decisions I made."

Watson will be eligible to return in week 13, on 4 December, against his former side the Houston Texans, where the allegations were made and where he departed on a five-year deal worth an NFL-record $230m (£174.4m) in March.

The big-money trade was controversial and sparked protests from fans and women's groupsexternal-link.

His fine will be combined with further donations from the NFL and Cleveland Browns resulting in $7m going towards the prevention of sexual misconduct and assault, as well as supporting "the work of non-profit organizations across the country that educate young people on healthy relationships".

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement: "Deshaun has committed to doing the hard work on himself that is necessary for his return to the NFL. This settlement requires compliance with a professional evaluation and treatment plan, a significant fine, and a more substantial suspension."

Watson has previously denied the allegations, and two grand juries have ruled there was not enough evidence to charge him, although he still faces multiple civil lawsuits.

He was accused of sexual assault and inappropriate misconduct during massage sessions that took place between March 2020 and March 2021 and, despite not being suspended by the Texans, Watson did not play in the 2021 season.

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