While he continues to be under the cloud of an upcoming suspension, Deshaun Watson is slated to play in his first NFL game in nearly two years on Friday night. The Browns announced on Wednesday that Watson is expected to start in Friday's preseason game along with most of Cleveland's starters against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Browns won't be able to start Watson on Friday if NFL designee Peter C. Harvey abides by the league's wishes to indefinitely suspend the former Texans quarterback prior to kickoff. Under the collective bargaining agreement, any decision made by the appeals officer constitutes a "full, final and complete disposition of the dispute,"
Watson was recently hit with a six-game suspension, one that the NFL is hoping to increase. Watson recently faced 24 civil lawsuits that accused him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions during his time with the Houston Texans. He has since settled 23 of those suits.
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Watson, who has denied any wrongdoing, was not indicted on criminal charges by two Texas grand juries earlier this offseason.
On Tuesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell explained why the league is appealing NFL disciplinary officer Sue. L Robinson's suspension. Goodell said that Watson's actions were "egregious" and exuded "predatory behavior."
"We've seen the evidence, she was very clear about the evidence, she reinforced the evidence," Goodell said, via ESPN. "There were multiple violations that were egregious, and it was predatory behavior."
As it currently stands, Watson will miss at least the first six games of the regular season. In the interim, Cleveland's starting quarterback will be Jacoby Brissett, who logged 37 career starts during his time with the Patriots, Colts and Dolphins.