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3 NFL stars who were suspended due to sexual assault or misconduct allegations

Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown
Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown
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Adam Hulse

Deshaun Watson has been one of the most talked-about topics of the 2022 NFL offseason and for the better part of the last full year. He sat out the entire 2021 NFL season for the Houston Texans while dealing with two dozen civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct.

Despite the legal situation surrounding Deshaun Watson, the Cleveland Browns proceeded to acquire him via a massive trade during the 2022 offseason. They doubled down on their decision by signing him to an enormous contract extension worth $230 million, setting a record for the largest guaranteed contract ever.

His legal situation is the most significant question mark surrounding Watson's future with the Browns. While he has ultimately avoided criminal charges, he still has to beat 24 lawsuits. It's almost guaranteed that he will receive a suspension from the league office, but the length is still to be determined.

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The league doesn't need Watson to be found guilty in court to issue a suspension, as the league office can rule that he violated the personal conduct policy. Other players in the past were never officially charged with a sexual crime but still received lengthy suspensions. Here are three such cases.

3 NFL stars who were suspended due to sexual allegations

#1 - Ben Roethlisberger

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger

Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assault in 2010. Police investigated the accusations, but the charges were ultimately dropped.

.@WhitlockJason compares Jameis Winston to Ben Roethlisberger and explains why a 3-game suspension isn't enough. (Part 1) https://t.co/ZfSKTfPdgq

Despite walking away clean from the situation from a legal standpoint, Roethlisberger was suspended by the NFL for six games, which was later reduced to four games after an appeal.

#2 - Jameis Winston

New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston
New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston

An Uber driver claimed sexual misconduct against Jameis Winston while the quarterback was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was never arrested or charged with any crime over the incident.

#Bucs QB Jameis Winston's apology was part of the negotiated settlement on his 3-game suspension, sources say. He does not admit guilt to the conduct the NFL says violated the policy. But he acknowledges he was drinking that night and doesn't remember everything. @TomPelissero https://t.co/Z7lRtZgmtC

The NFL proceeded with their investigation and found Winston violated their personal conduct policy. The league suspended him for the first three games of the 2018 NFL season.

#3 - Antonio Brown

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown
Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown was suspended from the league for the first eight games of the 2020 season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for multiple violations of the personal conduct policy. While the official ruling was due to his involvement in a burglary and battery case for which he received probation, he was also accused of sexual misconduct.

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This case was in addition to an ongoing civil case involving one of his former trainers, who accused him of sexual assault in 2017 and rape in 2018. The civil suit was officially settled in 2021.


Edited by Jay Lokegaonkar
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