Watson gets off easy, Goodell needs to act fast, says former NFL player

Deshaun Watson walked free.

The heinous pattern of behavior he displayed over and over with one massage therapist after another begs for more than a six-game suspension.

Allow him to begin earning his $230 million contract from the Browns next season.

Do you really care about women, or do you just say you do?

We’ve seen the NFL fumble these issues time and again, and no matter how hard they try to build a system of justice, they still don’t get it right.

Of course, there will always be those who criticize any and all punishments imposed under the league’s Personal Conduct Policy, whether it’s a year suspension for gambling for Calvin Ridley or Ray Rice’s feeble two-game suspension until that disturbing elevator video showing him punching his current wife sparked the outrage that forced the Ravens to suspend him indefinitely… which became forever.

The NFL, which sought a one-year suspension and a large fine, should exercise its right to appeal Disciplinary Officer Sue L. Robinson’s decision, and not just because the winds of outrage are blowing in that direction.

Roger Goodell has the gavel and the last word, and he must send a strong message by slamming the hammer down on Watson. According to the CBA, “the commissioner will issue a written decision that constitutes full, final, and complete disposition of the dispute.”

Roger Goodell has the final say in Deshaun Watson’s suspension. AP

Never forget: the NFL has worked hard to educate women about the game and get them into the stands and team stores, and this is another slap in the face to all of them.

Watson will forfeit $345,00 as a result of the Browns’ benefactor contract during his suspension.

No fewer than 25 women have filed civil lawsuits alleging everything from sexual assault to inappropriate behavior. The fact that two grand juries declined to pursue criminal charges against Watson, that he has settled all but one of them, and that none of the previous 32 NFL suspensions exceeded 10 games does not change his predatory behavior.

And has benefited from it.

Deshaun Watson should be made to think long and hard about the pain and emotional suffering he has caused his victims.

Allow him to receive extensive counseling for whatever demons he continues to deny exist.

But in this case, the Browns — whose owners are a husband and wife team — couldn’t wait to embrace Watson and made him the league’s highest-paid player.

There is no way to underestimate their desperation: let’s go all-in even if it takes a chump to make us Super Bowl champions for the first time in our history.

On Monday, Deshaun Watson was at Browns training camp. AP

In this situation, I am confident that Vince Lombardi would have waived his Winning Isn’t Everything But It’s The Only Thing credo.

Did Robinson look into the New York Times report that Watson met with at least 66 different women between fall 2019 and spring 2021? What exactly could the evidence she examined have persuaded her that six games were sufficient?

Robinson’s conclusion that Watson did not engage in a “pattern of nonviolent sexual conduct” ignores the emotional trauma he inflicted.

Too often, it appears that the NFL is hurling a dart at the perplexing and frequently testosterone-fueled smorgasbord of personal misconduct behaviors: Kareem Hunt, eight games (assault incident, no charges); Mychal Kendricks, eight games (insider trading charges); Jarran Reed, six games, (alleged assault, no charges); DeAndre Hopkins, six games (PED); Jameis Winston, three games (alleged sexual assault, no charges).

In 2010, Goodell stepped in to impose a six-game suspension on Ben Roethlisberger, which was reduced to four after prosecutors declined to charge the Steelers quarterback with sexual assault in a Georgia nightclub.

Goodell has a chance here now to speak to the growing number of young girls and women that the NFL has wooed in pursuit of the almighty dollar and be seen by some at least as the white knight riding to a moral rescue.

Roger, one year. One calendar year.