August 19, 2022 - The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) believes the current disciplinary action against Deshaun Watson for his predatory behavior in violation of the League’s personal conduct policy doesn’t go far enough. We strongly feel that any client - including professional athlete – who steps over the line to inappropriate touch should face serious legal consequences. This type of inaction by the NFL further perpetuates misconduct and abuse by athletes in the League.
Creating a safe workplace for all massage therapists and other professionals who are part of the athletes’ care teams should be a priority for the NFL. Yet, the NFL continues to send the wrong message by not adhering to higher standards and professionalism. Inappropriate behavior without serious consequences creates real danger for professional massage therapists. Furthermore, 86% of licensed massage therapists are female and this level of inaction shows a profound lack of respect towards women and their safety.
Licensed massage therapists deserve more – they should feel respected and safe in their professional environment. AMTA had previously reached out to Roger Goodell asking for his support to help facilitate an environment where licensed massage therapists can practice massage therapy safely and professionally as part of the care team for NFL athletes across the League. We were greatly disappointed not to receive a direct response.
Massage therapy is an important recovery tool for NFL athletes, and science and research show that it can help with accelerating the healing and recovery process, preventing re-injury and long-term complications, along with reducing stress and pain. The blatant disregard for the trained licensed massage therapy professionals who are contributing to the success of athletes in the League is appalling.
Additionally, irresponsible remarks made by lawyers or in the media coverage put professional, licensed massage therapists at risk by condoning inappropriate conduct in a massage environment. It’s dangerous to speak so cavalierly about massage therapy, and can give the wrong impression on what one should expect during a massage session.
AMTA strongly believes massage therapists deserve mutual respect, courtesy and professionalism at all times. And, massage therapists should never have to tolerate conduct outside the bounds of therapeutic massage therapy. We will continue to advocate for all massage therapists to receive a higher level of respect and support from the NFL to ensure that they can practice massage therapy in the safe, professional environment that they rightfully deserve.
“The NFL needs to take a more serious approach to protecting massage therapists who are an important part of athletes’ care teams. Abuse and inappropriate conduct are never okay and we are very disappointed that the NFL has not made the safety of massage therapists who provide care for athletes a stronger priority,” says Michaele Colizza, National President of AMTA.