Half Measures Won’t Do In Deshaun Watson’s Sexual Misconduct Case

The NFL’s decision to up Deshaun Watson’s fine and suspension from six games to 11, with a $5 million fine and a mandatory behavioral evaluation and treatment program is nowhere near enough.   

That $5 million represents 2.1739% of Watson’s new $230 million contract with the Cleveland Browns, which was negotiated after more than two dozen women had accused the star athlete of sexual misconduct.   

NOW is pleased to see behavioral evaluation and treatment recognized as best practices by the NFL, but they have a lot to learn about math.  What is the point of a $5 million fine to Deshaun Watson—or to the NFL, which made an estimated $9.8 billion during the 2021 season, and more than $15 billion the season before? 

Professional teams, leagues, and players need to take the violence against women crisis in professional sports seriously. That means more than the $1 million each to be donated by the NFL and the Browns to “educate young people” on things like healthy relationships and “support survivors and related causes.”   

Women need more than empty words and half-measures.  The culture of toxic masculinity within the NFL must change—NOW.  Deshaun Watson’s career and wealth won’t be damaged by this decision—unlike the dozens of women he has irreparably harmed. 

No, this isn’t good enough. 

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The National Organization for Women (NOW) is the nation’s leading membership-based advocacy group dedicated to defending women’s rights, advancing equality and combating injustice in all aspects of social, political and economic life. Through educating, mobilizing, and convening a vast network of grassroots activists across the country, NOW advocates for national, state and local policies that promote an anti-racist and intersectional feminist agenda. Since its founding in 1966, NOW has been on the frontlines of nearly every major advancement for women’s rights and continues to champion progressive values today. More about NOW’s efforts and resources is available at NOW.org.

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