I’m not sure that Deshaun Watson gets it.

Seventeen months and 24 accusers later, Watson has received what on the surface appears to be a considerable sentence. On Thursday, the NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed that Watson, quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, would be suspended for 11 games and fined $5 million for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. The penalty is in connection with allegations that Watson engaged in sexual misconduct and sexually assaulted women during massage sessions.

After reading Watson’s statement on Thursday and listening to his remarks, I’m convinced that the suspension should have been longer — 15 games. That would likely have compelled Cleveland to shelve Watson for the season. He needs time to think about all that has transpired since March 2021.

In a statement released Thursday, Watson said, “I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused. I take accountability for the decisions I made.”

That’s fine. 

But when he met with reporters Thursday, Watson struck a more defiant tone.

“I’ve always stood on my innocence and always said I’ve never assaulted anyone or disrespected anyone,” he said. “I’m going to continue to stand on my innocence.”

Which is it? Accountability for poor decisions? Or innocence?