Cleveland Browns’ Deshaun Watson Maintains His Innocence Against Allegations: ‘It’s Tough to Have to Deal With’

by Patrick Norton

Deshaun Watson is maintaining his innocence less than three weeks removed from two more claims of harassment and sexual misconduct, bringing the total of civil lawsuits against the NFL quarterback to 24.

Watson, who is in attendance for mandatory minicamp with his new club, claimed on Tuesday he had “never assaulted, disrespected, or harassed anyone”.

Cleveland’s quarterback did address his one regret regarding how the situation has garnered an immense amount of pressure and distractions for those around him: “I do have regrets as far as the impact that [it’s had] on the community and people outside of just myself.”

Watson added, “And that includes my family. That includes this organization, that includes my teammates in this locker room that have to answer to these questions. That includes the fan base of the Cleveland Browns.”

Last week, The New York Times alleged the three-time Pro Bowler visited 66 massage therapists between fall 2019 and spring 2021 before the filing of the first civil suit. All 24 women involved in a legal battle against Watson were among the 66.

Deshaun Watson’s Immediate Playing Future Remains Clouded at Best

Deshaun Watson last faced an NFL pass rush in January, 2021; a Week 17 matchup against the Tennessee Titans. Watson – who was the quarterback of the Houston Texans at the time – hurled three touchdowns and tossed one interception, but a last-second Tennessee field goal secured Houston’s twelfth and final loss of the season.

Watson’s absence from the league began voluntarily. The former first-round selection requested a trade, unhappy with the front office and declaring his qualms did not lie with his teammates. On March 16, 2021, Watson faced an accusation with a civil lawsuit served for sexual misconduct, alleged by a Houston-based massage therapist and filed by attorney Tony Buzbee.

Through April 5 of last year, the totality of claims rose to 22. While a grand jury declined to indict Watson on criminal charges on March 11, 2022, Watson still would face 22 civil lawsuits.

One week following the grand jury’s ruling, the Texans shipped Watson north to Cleveland where he received a monstrous contract extension. Last week, the number of claims jumped again, adding two more lawsuits for a total of 24.

While Watson is yet to receive a formal punishment from the league offices, there is a growing expectation the quarterback will miss time.