Photo: Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images
  /  09.07.2022

The NFL offseason was eventful, to say the least. The small 15-week window between the end of the regular season and the start of training camp was bookended by two high-profile suspensions dished out for violations of the league’s personal conduct policy. No doubt, the biggest story has been now-Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson. In addition to dealing with a contentious breakup with the Houston Texans, who drafted him with the No. 12 pick in 2017, the former Clemson Tiger was slammed with 24 allegations of sexual assault. The women, all masseuses, accused Watson of lewd and coercive activities during massage appointments.

Prior to the allegations going public, he demanded a trade following the 2020 season and sat out the 2021 season due to “non-injury reasons/personal matters,” despite attending organized team activities (OTAs) and training camp with the team. On March 18, a year to the day that the league announced their investigation into the allegations, the Browns traded for the three-time Pro Bowler, signing him to a fully guaranteed, five-year, $230 million deal — the largest contract and most guaranteed money in NFL history. It was a move that divided the fanbase morally and sports-wise, considering the reality that Watson would face some type of suspension.

During this time, Watson lost more than playing time. His endorsement deals with Nike and Beats by Dre were suspended, and Reliant Energy and grocery chain H-E-B publicly stated they had no desire to work with the signal caller in the future. That same month, the Houston Police Department launched an investigation into criminal complaints filed by some of the accusers. On March 11, 2022 – a week before the trade – a grand jury cleared Watson of any criminal charges in nine complaints, although the civil cases remained. On March 24, a second grand jury declined to press charges on a 10th complaint. The entire time these developments were taking place, the NFL was reluctant to levy any type of consequences as Commissioner Roger Goodell stated that the league did not wish to interfere with the police investigation. Following the October owners meeting, Goodell said, “We don’t have all the access to that information [that the police have] and pride ourselves on not interfering with it. That process is ongoing.” Fast forward to present day and Watson has settled 23 of the 24 civil suits; however, he has steadfastly voiced his innocence in the matter.

With the Watson sweepstakes over, attention turned to the NFL and what the league planned to do in the form of discipline. Goodell was clear that Watson would not go on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, which is another term for paid leave. While on the list, players are paid but do not count toward the team’s 53-man roster. During that time, said player is not allowed to practice or attend games and is only allowed to visit the facility for meetings, to work out, and receive treatment. While Watson was out of the woods with regards to the criminal matter, whether or not he violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy was a whole different ballgame. “We’ve been very clear with every club, whether the criminal matter gets resolved or not, that the personal conduct policy is very important to us,” Goodell told Albert Breer of “They understand that’s something we’re going to pursue.”

Retired Judge Sue L. Robinson, appointed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association to oversee player discipline, issued a six-game suspension at the beginning of August after coming to the conclusion that Watson exhibited predatory and egregious conduct — a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy. Amid backlash, the NFL appealed and extended the suspension to 11 games while fining the quarterback $5 million. Many were outraged and pointed to the very recent suspension of Calvin Ridley, the Atlanta Falcons’ wide receiver. Ridley has been suspended indefinitely after betting on NFL games. The initial six-game suspension was seen as a slap in the face but while it may not be popular opinion, the cases of Watson and Ridley are like apples and oranges as far as discipline is concerned.

Robinson’s recommendation was consistent with the precedent exercised by the league in which a player was found to be in violation of the policy but not convicted of a crime. Case in point: Recently retired Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Benjamin Roethlisberger was initially suspended for six games back in 2010 after a sexual assault allegation; it was later reduced to four games. Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was also suspended for six games in 2017 for domestic violence allegations from which no criminal charges stemmed. While the league was pushing for indefinite suspension, they simply could not buck precedent. In order to be in violation, there only has to be reasonable evidence of misconduct, and Watson and his team acknowledged that sexual activity — allegedly consensual — occurred.

Ridley took a break from football to address mental health concerns beginning on Halloween of last year. In March, it was announced that he engaged in sports betting over a five-day period in November. Ridley’s activities were brought to the attention of the league by the legal sports betting industry. It was determined that the former Alabama receiver placed multilegged parlay bets involving three, five, and eight games that had his team winning. Although he also bet on other sports during the same time span, the league was only concerned with his NFL bets, which were a direct violation of the conduct policy. He has been suspended indefinitely. After Robinson’s findings, Ridley took to Twitter to share his thoughts on what many felt was a slight slap on the wrist for Watson. “Free Calvin Ridley!!!” said the since-deleted tweet. Ridley also disclosed at the time of his disciplinary announcement that he only gambled $1,500.

It could be argued – and has been argued – that the NFL was protecting its own brand with the updated 11-game suspension. After all, Watson’s first game back will be against his former team, the Texans, so it’s a really compelling argument. However, when it comes to comparing the transgressions of both players, the answer is simple. Watson was accused and has not been proven guilty of anything. Text messages and Instagram DMs on both sides – both Watson’s and the accusers – lend to a very gray area, whereas Ridley’s gambling is black and white. How the league decides to discipline both violations differs in its philosophy. While conduct is subjective, the stance on betting on your own sport is clearly spelled out. There’s also the matter of collateral damage that Ridley’s actions could cause. While this is no attempt to minimize the severity of Watson’s actions, the scope of fallout is minimized to the accusers, the Browns and Watson. The integrity of the league as a whole comes into question when it comes to betting – regardless of whether it’s your own team or another NFL club.

Unfortunately for the NFL, its handling of the situation sits as another stain when it comes to protecting women. It does lead to the notion that the conduct policy and its enforcement need to be adjusted – on both the NFL end and the NFL Players Association side of things.



View More



View More


Walmart has everything you need for the tech enthusiast on your shopping list

Check out our gift guide that highlights some of our favorite Walmart finds in time for Black Friday.

  /  11.10.2023

5 things you need to know about the 2023 Billboard Music Awards

“REVOLT Black News” correspondent Kennedy Rue counts down the top five moments from the 2023 Billboard Music Awards, including surprising wins, historic firsts, and dope performances. Sponsored by Amazon.

  /  11.20.2023

Walmart's HBCU Black and Unlimited Tour kicks off at Central State University

On Oct. 10, Walmart unveiled a brand new, state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University.

  /  11.14.2023

The Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour visited Mississippi Valley State University

The Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour made its final stop at Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) and left a lasting impact on students and alumni alike.

  /  11.22.2023

Walmart has the home essentials for everyone on your holiday shopping list

Below, our gift guide highlights some of our favorite Walmart finds for anyone in need of a home refresh.

  /  11.24.2023

Walmart continues HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour during lively Virginia State University stop

After unveiling their state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University, Walmart brought the HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour to Virginia State University (VSU) on Oct. 13.

  /  11.14.2023

Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour brings attention and wisdom to North Carolina Central University

On Oct. 17, Walmart brought the third stop of the HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour to North Carolina Central University (NCCU).

  /  11.15.2023

Groovey Lew on hip hop style, Johnell Young's industry secrets, BGS salon's wig mastery and more | 'Black Girl Stuff'

Fashion King Groovey Lew on masterminding hip-hop’s most iconic looks. Actor Johnell Young reveals the secret to breaking into the entertainment industry. Celebrity hairstylist Dontay Savoy and got2B ambassador Tokyo Stylez are in the BGS Salon with the perfect wig install. Plus, comedian Lauren Knight performs.

  /  11.15.2023

Pheelz talks expressing himself through music & his biggest inspirations | 'On In 5'

On this all-new episode of “On In 5,” multitalented Nigerian artist Pheelz opens up about waiting for his opportunity to fully express himself through music, his inspirations and emotions, and the musical icons he grew up admiring. Watch!

  /  07.11.2023

Kareem Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke & networking | 'The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels'

On this all-new episode of “The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels,” the host and REVOLT CEO sits down with Kareem Cook. Throughout the introspective episode, Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke and being nervous to be in the South at the time, network vs. education, taking advantage of your opportunities, and connecting with Debbie Allen. Watch!

  /  07.10.2023

Tiffany Haddish on therapy, wild fan interactions & the upcoming 'Haunted Mansion' movie | 'The Jason Lee Show'

On this all-new episode of “The Jason Lee Show,” the one and only Tiffany Haddish sits for a must-watch conversation about wild interactions with fans, her new movie ‘Haunted Mansion,’ bringing her therapist on dates, and being present. Watch the hilarious interview here.

  /  07.12.2023

BNXN talks leaving IT for music, linking with Wizkid, going viral & new album | 'On In 5'

For this all-new episode of “On In 5,” singer-songwriter BNXN discusses his journey from IT to music, finding his voice and originality, linking up with Wizkid for their hits “Mood” and “Many Ways,” and what fans can expect from him this year — including a new album. Watch the full episode here!

  /  08.08.2023

From city lots to lush gardens: The power of urban farming with Karen Washington

This is the inspiring story of Karen Washington, a pioneering urban farmer who has been revolutionizing urban spaces by transforming them into vibrant community gardens and educational hubs. Sponsored by State Farm.

  /  11.17.2023

Investing in stocks in a recession | 'Maconomics'

Host Ross Mac provides useful advice for preparing your personal finances in the event of a recession. He emphasizes the importance of budgeting properly, building an emergency fund, and maintaining discipline when investing.

  /  11.21.2023

Madam DA Fani Willis proclaims, “A lie has been told on African American men”

“Every time I’m in trouble, it’s been Black men that have come to my aid,” Madam DA Fani Willis said at REVOLT WORLD while speaking on the stereotype that they are not dependable or worth dating.

  /  10.11.2023

Lauren London sparks conversation on how Black parents unintentionally give kids negative outlook on money

At the live taping of “Assets Over Liabilities” at REVOLT WORLD, Lauren London opened up about how witnessing the financial decisions adults made during her childhood fueled her outlook on money. 

  /  10.26.2023

Black media leaders stress the space's importance because we're always antagonists in mainstream's storytelling

“I definitely feel those ‘heavier is the crown’ moments. But I also believe that Black entrepreneurs are uniquely positioned to be successful in the future,” Detavio Samuels said at AfroTech.

  /  11.03.2023

Halftime Report | Professional athletes who've dropped rap albums

From Master P to Chris Webber, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Deion Sanders, Damian Lillard and more, these athletes got bars. Check out our list here!

  /  11.01.2023

Machel Montano opens up about life as a child star, new music, and exciting business moves

In an exclusive interview with REVOLT, Machel Montano dove into his musical journey, childhood stardom, and an exciting new chapter in business.

  /  11.03.2023

Lauren London says Nipsey Hussle inspired her eldest son’s interest in finances

“I have those conversations with my son about abundance,” Lauren London said at REVOLT WORLD. 

  /  11.06.2023
View More
Revolt - New Episodes