Image via @TomPelissero / X (screenshot)
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The league determined that during the celebration of a third-quarter touchdown, Watson and tight end David Njoku committed a "violent gesture" when they pretended to shoot guns toward each other for approximately one second during what appeared to be their own signature handshake.
AOL reported that the duo were fined $13,659 for, it seems, playing pretend.
Here\u2019s the \u201cviolent gesture\u201d that led to one of Deshaun Watson\u2019s three fines from Monday night.\n\nWatson and David Njoku were each fined $13,659 for the gun-themed celebration after a #Browns TD. Watson was fined $35,513 total, including two fines for unnecessary roughness.— Tom Pelissero (@Tom Pelissero) 1695500986
Along with a 26-22 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, more salt was rubbed in the wounds of Watson after he received two additional fines for "unnecessary roughness."
This bumped his infraction total up to $35,513 at the end of the day.
"Both [penalties were] my fault, but as far as the facemask and things like that, I'm stiff-arming just like everyone else," Watson later said. "And once they grab my arm as I'm running, they keep pushing, only way I can really let go is to swing across. And once they do that, my hand is stuck in their helmet or in their facemask, so I gotta do a better job of just hitting them with the palm, I guess, and just releasing as much as I can so we don't get those penalties."
Watson returned this season after an 11-game suspension over sexual assault and sexual misconduct allegations stemming from massage therapy sessions. The suspension included a fine of $5 million, according to the Daily Mail.
A grand jury declined to charge Watson in relation to claims from 22 women in March 2022.
Seemingly in response to the situation, the NFL announced changes to its policy in August 2023 amending its definition of sexual assault so that players are given a base-level suspension that can be expanded if other wrongful conduct is committed.
Under the new definition, a first violation of a sexual assault "involving physical force or committed against someone incapable of giving consent or involving threats or coercion" will carry a six-game suspension without pay. The suspension can be coupled with "possible upward or downward adjustments based on any aggravating or mitigating factors," according to the policy.
For a second offense, the punishment leaps to a lifetime ban from the league.
Indefinite suspensions are more common for the NFL than a lifetime ban.
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