QB Deshaun Watson leaves Browns as NFL suspension begins

Sports

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Cleveland starting quarterback Deshaun Watson began serving his NFL suspension for alleged sexual misconduct Tuesday, a punishment that will keep him away from the Browns until Oct. 10.

Watson, who was placed on the reserve/suspended by commissioner list before practice, was spotted leaving the team’s facility and driving away a little after 3 p.m. EDT. He had been required to leave by 4 p.m. in accordance with the suspension he agreed to in a settlement with the league earlier this month.

The 26-year-old was accused of sexual assault and harassment by two dozen women during massage therapy sessions in Texas. He has settled 23 of the 24 lawsuits that were filed against him by the women.

A three-time Pro Bowler with Houston, Watson will miss 11 games, pay a $5 million fine and must undergo mandatory treatment and counseling before he can be reinstated. He’ll be eligible to play in Week 13 on the road against the Texans.

During his suspension, Watson is not permitted to have any contact with Browns personnel.

Watson has always denied any wrongdoing, and he maintained his innocence shortly after agreeing to the settlement worked out between the NFL and NFL Players Association following the league’s appeal of his original six-game suspension.

As long as he abides by the league’s provisions, Watson will be allowed to return to the Browns’ training facility on Oct. 10, roughly halfway through his suspension. He can resume practice Nov. 14 and be officially reinstated two weeks later.

Per league rules, when Watson comes back he’ll be permitted to receive treatment from the team’s medical and athletic staffs. As part of his agreement, any massages must be scheduled by the Browns and only with club-mandated massage therapists.

While he’s away, Watson is expected to work with a personal quarterback’s coach. Watson played in Cleveland’s first preseason game at Jacksonville, his first live game action since Jan. 3, 2001, after he sat out last season.

By the time he plays for the Browns, Watson will have not played in a regular-season game in 700 days.

Jacoby Brissett has moved into Watson’s starting spot and will try to keep the Browns competitive during the suspension. Brissett, who has made 37 career starts, will be backed up by Joshua Dobbs.

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