Sports

Browns’ Deshaun Watson apologizes ‘to all the women I influenced’

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson apologized on Friday “to all the women I influenced” after being accused by two dozen women of sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions.

Watson, who is facing a potential year-long NFL suspension, spoke ahead of the opening of the Cleveland exhibition in Jacksonville – his first game since January 3, 2021, with the Houston Texans.

Watson was suspended for six games earlier this month by independent referee Sue L. Robinson, who concluded she violated the league’s privacy policy with “terrible” and “predatory” behavior.

As part of his decision, the retired federal judge noted Watson’s lack of remorse.

Watson was asked in a pre-match interview with the team’s internal TV crew on Friday for his response to Robinson’s position that he had no regrets.

“Listen, I want to say that I’m truly sorry to all the women I’ve influenced in this situation,” Watson said in the interview. “The decisions I made in my life that put me in this position, I definitely want to get them back, but I want to keep going and growing and learning and showing that I am a person of character and I will continue to push forward.”

This is the first time Watson has publicly apologized for his alleged behavior. In two media interviews since joining the Browns in March, he has only said he has “no regrets” while admitting his actions have negatively impacted “so many people.”

Watson has been accused of sexually harassing or assaulting women during therapy sessions in 2020 and 2021. He has always denied wrongdoing and grand jury in two Texas counties have refused to indict him on criminal complaints.

The Pro Bowler three times settled 23 of 24 civil lawsuits.

However, he still faces discipline from the league, which is appealing Robinson’s sentence and is seeking a full season ban along with a significant fine of more than $5 million and for Watson to undergo evaluation and treatment before he can be reinstated.

Appeal now with Peter C. Harvey, former New Jersey attorney general appointed by Commissioner Roger Goodell.

There is no timetable for Harvey’s decision. It is also possible that both parties can work out a settlement. On Thursday, a person familiar with Watson’s defense told the AP that the 26-year-old would agree to an eight-game suspension and a $5 million fine.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity due to high-profile case sensitivity.

Watson continues to train and is excited to make his debut with Cleveland, who traded three first-round picks to Houston for him in March and signed him to a five-year deal worth $230 million.

Depending on Harvey’s decision, Watson could stay away from Brown for a long time. He was asked what kind of personal growth he hopes for.

“I know I have a lot of work to do, especially on the pitch to make sure I’m ready to play whenever the time comes, whenever I can get back on the pitch,” he said. “But also, the biggest thing is that I want to continue counseling and I want to make sure that I grow as a person, as an individual for my decision making on and off the pitch.

“I want to make sure that I only thrive in as many communities as possible, and that’s for the Cleveland community, that’s the NFL community and beyond.”

If Watson is suspended indefinitely he will not be able to train or play in pre-season so he is looking forward to facing Jaguar.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “I’m excited to go out with my new teammates and go out there and compete. Every snap, I want to make sure I appreciate it because I’m not sure when the next time I’ll be able to get it out there with those guys.”

Reported by the Associated Press.


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Browns’ Deshaun Watson apologizes ‘to all the women I influenced’

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