Deshaun Watson’s Cleveland Browns teammates avoid suspension speech


BEREA, Ohio — There’s no quarterbacking controversy in the purest sense of the word with the Cleveland Browns. There is controversy surrounding their quarterback, at least the one who was acquired to be the face of their franchise.

The Browns learned Monday that Deshaun Watson, their franchise quarterback, will be suspended six games by independent disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson. There remains a chance the NFL could appeal the decision and seek a longer suspension, a decision that should be made in writing by 9 a.m. ET Thursday.

“Coach [Kevin] Stefanski spoke to the team and updated everyone on the situation,” center Nick Harris said Tuesday. “Everyone has complete faith in Jacoby. [Brissett]. He came to work every day and went about his business trying to prepare.”

Robinson’s 16-page ruling was a talking point for many across the country when it was released on Monday. This conversation, at least publicly, did not extend inside the Browns locker room.

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Browns players were not made available to the media on Monday. On Tuesday, they continued to distance themselves from any direct conversation about Watson’s issues off the pitch.

“It’s just none of my business,” linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. said Tuesday. alone and I didn’t want to put myself in that situation. It’s football here for us and he handles it the way he should.”

Walker was asked how a franchise quarterback’s well-publicized off-field issues shouldn’t at least cause some concern from his teammates. Browns players have answered a lot of the questions about Watson since the start of the offseason program in April instead of the quarterback himself speaking.

So isn’t a franchise quarterback’s business also the whole team’s business?

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Deshaun Watson shares a laugh with defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney and Myles Garrett.

“That’s a great question,” Walker said. “I wouldn’t say that. At the end of the day, we’re all part of this organization and this team and we all have a job to do. It’s not everyone’s job to worry about the job of someone else. We have our own work to do.”

Walker and Brissett were asked if they had had a chance to read Robinson’s decision. Both said they hadn’t and, in fact, probably wouldn’t.

Brissett can spend as much time with Watson as anyone, at least within the establishment. Brissett will be the starting quarterback while Watson is suspended.

That means if anyone on the team can read Watson’s mood, it’s Brissett.

“Well, it’s been ‘a’ day so he’s been good,” Brissett said. “Obviously difficult news but [he] can only go on, can’t it?

One person who read the report was Stefanski. The Browns coach had not seen the full report when he spoke to the media after Monday’s practice, more than seven hours after the decision was announced.

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson calls a play in huddle during training camp on July 30.

Even after reading the report, Stefanski maintained the same position he took throughout the process. It’s basically going back to the process.

“I will continue to respect Judge Robinson and her decision,” he said ahead of practice on Tuesday. “I think that’s really where my focus is.”

One person who hasn’t addressed the situation since the start of training camp is Watson. He has only had two media availability since the Browns acquired him: an introductory press conference on March 25 and a minicamp availability on June 14.

Stefanski repeatedly said he wanted to let Watson speak for himself when asked various direct questions regarding the quarterback. He said Tuesday that Watson, like owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam and chief executive Andrew Berry, would likely wait for the case to be fully closed.

Follow Chris Easterling on Twitter @ceasterlingABJ.


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