The NFL wants Deshaun Watson to be suspended longer than six games over allegations of sexual misconduct from dozens of different women. Watson’s camp, meanwhile, wants his punishment to be shortened.
To accomplish that, the quarterback’s representatives apparently plan to cite the relatively light suspension handed to another QB for alleged sexual assault.
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That quarterback is Ben Roethlisberger.
NFL Insider Josina Anderson tweeted to expect “lots of talk about 'Big Ben' vs. Deshaun Watson.” She added that Watson’s lawyers will point out that Roethlisberger’s six-game ban ultimately got reduced to a four.
“Where is the fairness and consistency?,” the source added.
That is some quote.
A 20-year-old college student accused Roethlisberger in 2010 of sexually assaulting her in the bathroom of a George nightclub. Though Roethlisberger wasn’t criminally charged, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. The ex-Steelers great became the first player suspended by Goodell under the conduct policy who wasn’t arrested with or charged with a crime.
Roethlisberger’s lenient suspension has long been mentioned as an example of the NFL not seriously prosecuting sexual misconduct among its star players.
In her ruling, Judge Sue L. Robinson mentioned the NFL’s woeful track record of disciplining players for alleged sexual assault — particularly “non-violent sexual assault” — as justification for Watson’s six-game ban, even though she called his conduct “more egregious than any before reviewed by the NFL.”
Two Texas grand juries denied to indict Watson on criminal charges. He’s settled 23 of the 24 lawsuits levied against him.
The NFL appointed former New Jersey attorney general Peter Harvey to hear its appeal.