A quarterback’s significant other attending a preseason football game might not often warrant headlines. However, when the quarterback remains in a legal battle regarding sexual misconduct and faces banishment from the NFL through Week 12, circumstances change. That’s the situation Deshaun Watson and girlfriend Jilly Anais currently face.
Jilly Anais is a musical artist, social influencer, and Deshaun Watson’s most staunch supporter. While Watson didn’t participate in the Cleveland Browns’ second preseason game, Anais did attend the affair.
Following the NFL and NFLPA’s settlement on an 11-game suspension, head coach Kevin Stefanski said Watson would no longer participate throughout the preseason with the team. Additionally, the quarterback won’t practice until the weeks leading up to his Week 13 return against the Houston Texans.
But that didn’t stop Watson’s girlfriend from celebrating with a group of women from a luxury suite. In a now-deleted Instagram story, Anais says, “cheers, ladies” to a group of attendees. The toast brings a raucous cheer from the friends.
However, in a week where Watson comes under scrutiny for his past actions, Anais’ presence at the game comes across in an odd manner. But it’s less awkward when understanding that Anais remains by Watson’s side regardless of accusations.
Before attending Saturday’s game, Anais attended the joint practice between Cleveland and the Philadelphia Eagles. After the practice, Watson and the team’s ownership met with the press to address the additional suspension parameters handed down by the league.
Without Team Participation, What’s Next for Deshaun Watson?
Watson won’t play Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers. That means he won’t have the opportunity to face off against the man he replaced – Baker Mayfield. However, one team still gets a shot at revenge against the quarterback.
More than a year since Watson’s trade request from the Houston Texans, his first game back from suspension comes against his former squad. Intentional? The NFL won’t admit to basing the extremely serious suspension on a grab for ratings.
As for Watson, the quarterback won’t participate in team activities and must ramp up for playing time shortly ahead of his debut. While Stefanski appears certain that the quarterback should debut in Week 13, preparing for game speed is hardly a guarantee.