Sunday, December 10

Deshaun Watson: ‘I’m truly sorry to all of the women that I’ve impacted in this situation’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Deshaun Watson finally showed some remorse for the decisions that led him to the point of possibly being banished from the NFL for at least a year.

“Look, I want to say that I’m truly sorry to all of the women that I have impacted in this situation,” Watson told sideline reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala during the Browns Countdown pregame show on News 5 before he started the Jaguars game. “The decisions that I made in my life that put me in this position I would definitely like to have back, but I want to continue to move forward and grow and learn and show that I am a true person of character and I am going to keep pushing forward.”

Watson was responding to the fact that NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson factored into her six-game suspension under the league’s personal conduct policy that he had now shown remorse of his actions.

The only thing Watson, 26, had expressed regret over before Friday was triggering so many people with the fact that he said he had no regrets and had never disrespected or assaulted a woman. Watson has been accused by 30 massage therapists of sexual misconduct, with 25 of them filing civil suits against him. Twenty-three have been settled, one was withdrawn, and one is pending.

“I think that question kind of triggered a lot of people,” he said in May. “Not just women in general but a lot of people in the league of women to males and things like that. What I was saying is, ‘Yes, I’ve never assaulted, disrespected or harassed anyone.’ But at the same time I understand and I do have regrets as far as the impact that it’s had on the community and people outside of just myself.

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“That includes my family, that includes this organization, that includes my teammates in this locker room that have to answer these questions, that includes the fan base of the Cleveland Browns, that includes males, females, everyone across the world. That’s one thing that I do regret is the impact that it’s triggered on so many people and it’s tough to have to deal with.”

He emphasized Friday that he’ll continue to get counseling, which he said in May he’s been doing. During his introductory press conference in March, he said he didn’t need help because he hadn’t done anything wrong — an approach that didn’t sit well with NFL investigators or with Robinson.

“I know I have a lot of work to put in, especially on the field to be able to make sure I’m ready to play whenever that time comes whenever I can step back on the field, but also, the biggest thing is I I want to continue counseling and I want to make sure that I’m growing as a person, as an individual for my decision making on and off the field,” he said. “I want to make sure that I’m just evolving in the community as much as possible, and that is for the Cleveland community, that is the NFL community and beyond.”

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Watson spoke just before boarding the bus for TIAA Bank Field, where he was preparing for his first game since Jan. 3, 2021, at a 41-38 loss to the Titans in the Texans’ season finale that year.

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“I’m super excited,” he said. “I’m excited to get out there with my new teammates and go out there and compete. Each and every snap, I want to make sure I cherish that because I’m not sure when the next time I’ll be able to get out there with those guys so I’m super excited.”

Watson took the field as he awaits the ruling by Peter C. Harvey on the NFL’s appeal of his six-game suspension. Commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed on Tuesday that the NFL is seeking a minimum year-long ban for Watson for what he described as “egregious” and “predatory” behavior.

If Watson is banned for the year, he’ll have to leave the team immediately and not participate in the rest of training camp or preseason games. He’d be permitted to apply for reinstatement after the season.

But the NFL and NFL Players Association can still reach a settlement that would get him on the field at some point this season. The Associated Press reported on Thursday night that Watson would be willing to accept an eight-game suspension as well as a $5 million fine for multiple violations of the personal conduct policy.

The NFL, which conducted a 15-month investigation, based its argument against Watson on what it felt were the four strongest of those cases.

If Watson, who has maintained his innocence throughout the process, is suspended for a specific number of games, he’ll be able to practice with the team and play in preseason games up until the final cuts on Aug. 30.

The Browns are prepared to start Jacoby Brissett in Watson’s place, but Watson has taken most of the first-team reps in practice. Brissett will get plenty of reps during joint practices against the Eagles on Aug. 18 and 19th, and will also have two more preseason games against the Eagles and Bears.

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