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Deshaun Watson’s Suspension is Infuriatingly On-Brand for the NFL

Can the NFL at least pretend they care about women?

Deshaun Watson and the NFL have come to an agreement, and it’s about the most on-brand thing that has happened in the NFL since the last time the NFL pretended to care about anything but their bottom line.

Look, we get it. The NFL is, above all things, a business. They’re not going to be more interested in doing the right thing than they are in making money. But they could at least do a better job of pretending they care about anything other than peddling the next big storyline. That shouldn’t be too much to ask. Pretend. Don’t just settle on 11 games and a 5$ million dollar fine for Deshaun Watson and then try to sell that as being “tough.”

And yes, 11 games is better than the six games the jointly appointed disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson ruled Watson should serve. But it falls short of the yearlong ban the NFL had asked for. And adding “behavioral experts” and a “treatment plan” to the so-called punishment changes nothing when a man with twenty-four, yes, you read that right, twenty-four sexual misconduct lawsuits still gets to play in this season.

What does a man have to do to get a lengthy suspension from the NFL? Domestic violence? Nah, that’s not bad enough. Ask Ezekiel Elliott or Greg Hardy. Sexual assault? Ben Roethlisberger only got a four-game suspension in 2010 after being accused by two women. Let’s not even discuss the laughable two-game suspension Ray Rice originally got. Basically, any type of violence against women will only get you a slap on the wrist from the NFL and a “do better next time.”

But smoking weed? Gambling? Now those are truly serious offenses for the NFL. They, after all, do care about their players and the sanctity of their “game.” It’s only women they don’t seem to care about. Which goes right back to the pretending angle. Okay, the NFL is a business, and a business isn’t required to care about half the population of the world if they feel it doesn’t affect their bottom line. But considering women watch football too, and spend money on merchandise, they could at least, you know, do a better job of pretending. Not because every man in the NFL has a “mother, or a wife, or a daughter,” but because women are inherently valuable, even if they can’t play in the NFL.

They could. But they won’t. And that’s not even the worst part of this wildly transparent stunt. The worst part is that Watson’s first game back would, casually, be on the road against, you guessed it, his former team, the Houston Texas. But the choice to suspend him for 11 weeks surely has nothing to do with the possible excitement about that matchup, right? The NFL wouldn’t leverage a “punishment” this way, right?

Wrong. Very, very wrong. Once again, that’s exactly what the NFL is doing – ignoring the real problem and trying to paint themselves as the good guys, all while they using the pain of twenty-four women (that we know of) as a way to leverage their product. We’d call it shameful, but at this point, it’s worse than that …it’s just on brand.