On the same day that the NFL and its players union reached a settlement agreement for an 11-game suspension and $5 million fine for Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, the lawyer representing plaintiffs who filed lawsuits against Watson for sexual harassment and assault dropped a statement that took issue with the actions of the league and commissioner Roger Goodell.
“By settling this matter the way he has, Roger Goodell has proven one of two things: either his recent rhetoric was utter baloney, or his bark is much worse than his bite,” attorney Tony Buzbee wrote. “My belief is that he is nothing more than a paper tiger. The message today to all victims is clear, if you believe you have been sexually assaulted by a powerful person, keep your mouth shut and go away. The NFL has certainly demonstrated that its ownership and the organization doesn’t care.”
Buzbee was referring to comments Goodell made following a disciplinary officer’s recommendation of a six-game suspension for Watson. After the ruling, Goodell made it clear that the league wanted a one-year ban and described Watson’s behavior toward dozens of massage therapists “egregious” and “predatory.”