Deshaun Watson, the quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, will start a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday. Watson is suspended for at least the first six games of the season.
The Browns announced on Wednesday that Watson would start the game, which will take place in Jacksonville, Florida, and begin at 7 p.m. EDT. The game can be viewed on NFL+ and Amazon Prime, but it won’t be broadcast on national television.
The NFL and players’ association hired former federal judge Sue L. Robinson to resolve Watson’s disciplinary matter, and she made the announcement on August 1 that Watson would be suspended for six games for breaking the league’s personal conduct code.
More than two dozen women have accused Watson of inappropriate behaviour and sexual assault in civil cases. Two Texas grand juries earlier this year decided not to indict him, and he has denied any criminal activity.
In April 2021, one of the 25 lawsuits was dismissed. Later, 23 of the remaining 24 lawsuits were resolved by Watson.
On August 3, the NFL filed an appeal with Robinson, asking for at least a one-season punishment. The players’ union did not challenge Robinson’s judgement.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters on Tuesday, “We’ve seen the evidence. [Robinson] was quite explicit about the facts, should we enforce the evidence — that there were numerous violations here, they were flagrant, and it was predatory behaviour.
The majority of the Browns’ other starters will also play against the Jaguars, according to the team.
Watson, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, missed all of 2021’s games due to legal issues. In 16 starts in 2020, he completed a career-high 70.2% of his passes for a league-high 4,823 yards, 33 TDs, and seven interceptions.
The other quarterbacks on the Browns’ roster are Jacoby Brissett, Joshua Dobbs, and Josh Rosen. In Week 1, Brissett is anticipated to debut.
On September 11 at Charlotte, North Carolina, the Browns will play their first regular-season game against the Panthers.