Deshaun Watson should suffer worse consequences after receiving a six-game suspension on Aug. 1 following 24 women suing him in civil lawsuits for claims of sexual misconduct during massage appointments.
On Aug. 3, the NFL appealed the decision to increase the suspension to 11 games along with a $5.69 million fine on Aug. 18. The NFL gave an insufficient sentence to a player that has shown a pattern of committing reprehensible acts toward women. Watson should never step foot on an NFL field again.
It is the responsibility of the NFL to suspend players that commit these inexcusable acts; however, the issue is only adequately handled on a case-by-case basis where the NFL judges their profit to be least affected.
Similar to Watson, Ben Roethlisberger, former Steelers quarterback, was given a four-game suspension for sexually assaulting a 20-year-old college student in 2010. Despite these allegations, the Steelers organization still made $51 million in ticket sales that year.
If Roethlisberger had been suspended indefinitely, it seems likely that the Steelers would have won fewer games, leading to fewer ticket sales and in turn less profit for the NFL. Foreshadowing their decision in the Deshaun Watson case, the NFL prioritized revenue over taking a stand on a moral issue.
The NFL tends to give bigger suspensions to players that they deem less important. On March 7, 2022, Calvin Ridley was suspended indefinitely for betting on NFL games. It was Ridley’s first offense, but his suspension is six games longer than Watson’s, who at one point faced 30 accusations.
As a wide receiver for a lottery team, Ridley doesn’t have the same name recognition or personal brand as Watson. The NFL can therefore make an example out of Ridley without damaging their bottom line. The NFL would rather have a bigger profit in jersey sales than send an important precedent to the rest of its players.
Notifying Ridley of the suspension, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell only concerns himself with the integrity of the league when it comes to smaller players. “There is nothing more fundamental to the NFL’s success — and to the reputation of everyone associated with our league — than upholding the integrity of the game,” Goodell said.
Watson’s new suspension requires him to pay $5.69 million; however, Watson recently signed a contract worth $230 million along with a $44.65 million signing bonus. The $230 million is fully guaranteed to Watson. The contract signed is the most guaranteed money in NFL history.
Watson’s and the NFL’s income will continue to increase for the next four years all because the NFL did not handle this issue with integrity.
Over time, Watson’s allegations will be forgotten by football fans because the issue was not handled properly. It is an absolute disgrace to the game of football that Watson is able to continue his NFL aspirations and make millions of dollars a year while his victims suffer trauma from his actions.