Deshaun Watson’s 6-game suspension equals Ben Roethlisberger’s from 2010

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has been suspended for six games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy following allegations of sexual misconduct made by 24 women, the AP reported Monday.

It’s the same length of suspension Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger received for violating the personal conduct policy after two two women accused him of sexual assault in 2010.

A big difference between the suspensions is who handed them down.

Roethlisberger was suspended by commissioner Roger Goodell. Watson was suspended by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson. In 2020 collective bargaining agreement negotiations, the NFL and its players association agreed that suspensions be decided by an arbitrator instead of the commissioner.

The CBA also states that players need not be criminally charged to receive a personal conduct suspension. Neither Watson nor Roethlisberger was charged.

In a letter to Roethlisberger in April 2010, Goodell explained why he issued a suspension despite a lack of criminal charges.

“The Personal Conduct Policy makes clear that I may impose discipline ‘even where the conduct does not result in conviction of a crime’ as, for example, where the conduct ‘imposes inherent danger to the safety and well being of another person’,” Goodell wrote. “As the District Attorney concluded, the extensive investigatory record shows that you contributed to the irresponsible consumption of alcohol by purchasing (or facilitating the purchase of) alcoholic beverages for underage college students, at least some of whom were likely already intoxicated.

“There is no question that the excessive consumption of alcohol that evening put the students and yourself at risk. The Personal Conduct Policy also states that discipline is appropriate for conduct that ‘undermines or puts at risk the integrity and reputation of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL players.’ By any measure, your conduct satisfies that standard.”

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The Steelers did not contest Roethlisberger’s suspension at the time.

“We support the level of discipline and the plan for personal evaluation,” team president Art Rooney II said in 2010. “I know (Roethlisberger’s) intent here is to follow the program that the commissioner sets out and it’s our hope and our expectations is what we’re going to do.”

The NFL has three days to decide whether to contest the arbitrator’s ruling in the Watson case.

In the Roethlisberger case in 2010, Goodell cut the length of the Steelers quarterback’s suspension to four games in September.

“You have told me and the Steelers that you are committed to making better decisions,” Goodell said in a letter to Roethlisberger. “Your actions over the past several months have been consistent with that promise and you must continue to honor that commitment.”

“I have learned a lot over the past several months about myself as a person,” Roethlisberger said in a statement. “I am committed to continuing on this path of being the type of person my family raised me to be, and exceeding what is expected of me as the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers.”

Here is a list of other notable player suspensions under the NFL’s personal conduct policy:

2021 — Running back Derrius Guice suspended six games (domestic violence).

2020 — Wide receiver Antonio Brown suspended eight games (multiple violations of personal conduct policy).

2019 — Cleveland running back Kareem Hunt suspended eight games (assault caught on video).

2019 — Seattle defensive lineman Jarran Reed suspended six games (assault accusation).

2019 — Raiders guard Richie Incognito suspended two games (disorderly conduct).

2018 — Seattle linebacker Mychal Kendricks suspended eight games (insider trading).

2018 — Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston suspended three games (accused of touching a female Uber driver inappropriately in 2016).

2018 — Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith suspended four games (domestic violence).

2017 — Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott suspended six games (domestic violence).

2017 — Kicker Josh Brown suspended six games (domestic violence).

2017 — Bengals cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones suspended one game (assault). Jones was suspended six games in 2008 and for one season in 2007 (multiple violations of personal conduct policy).

2015 — Cowboys defensive Greg Hardy suspended 10 games (domestic violence). Arbitrator Harold Henderson later reduced suspension to four games.

2014 — Baltimore running back Ray Rice suspended indefinitely (domestic violence).

2014 — Defensive lineman Aldon Smith suspended nine games (violations of personal conduct policy and substance abuse policy). Also suspended in 2015 (violations of the league’s substance abuse policy). Reinstated in 2020.

2014 — Vikings running back Adrian Peterson suspended indefinitely (child abuse case). Reinstated in 2015.

2008 — Vikings offensive lineman Bryant McKinnie suspended four games (arrested on aggravated battery charges after a street brawl outside a nightclub).

2007 — Falcons quarterback Michael Vick suspended indefinitely (dogfighting). Reinstated by Commissioner Roger Goodell in 2009.

2007 — Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson suspended eight games (gun charge).

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2007 — Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry suspended eight games (multiple violations of personal conduct policy).

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