Quarterback Deshaun Watson, who previously maintained that he had “no regrets” about his actions during massage sessions that led to allegations of sexual assault and other inappropriate activities, offered an apology on Friday to the women involved.
Watson, beginning his first season with the Cleveland Browns, was interviewed during the team’s pregame show before its exhibition game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He said he is “truly sorry to all of the women that I have impacted in this situation.”
Beginning what would be his fifth on-field NFL season, Watson made his Cleveland preseason debut in the first half on Friday.
Former U.S. district Judge Sue L. Robinson, picked by the league and the NFL Players Association as an independent disciplinary officer, handed down a six-game suspension to Watson earlier this month. Robinson noted a “lack of expressed remorse” from the 26-year-old quarterback in her decision.
The NFL appealed Robinson’s decision, wanting Watson to be suspended for a full season. Former New Jersey attorney general Peter C. Harvey was chosen by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to hear the appeal.
There is no mandated deadline for when a new ruling would be made, although the league’s bargaining agreement with the players association indicates the decision must be “expedited.”
In the Friday interview, Watson also acknowledged that 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.”
Two women filed criminal complaints against the then-Houston Texans quarterback, and 25 leveled lawsuits against him. Watson did not play in 2021 amid the scandal and his desire to be traded.
One woman dropped her lawsuit, and the quarterback has settled, or come to terms on settlements, with all but one of the others.
“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,” he said Friday, referring to the pending suspension.
In March, the Browns gave the Texans three first-round draft picks to acquire Watson, then promptly signed him to a $230 million, five-year contract, which is fully guaranteed.
Watson had signed a four-year, $160 million extension with Houston in September 2020, with $111 million guaranteed.
Watson has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 14,539 yards and 104 touchdowns with 36 interceptions. He led the league with 4,823 passing yards in 2020. He also has rushed for 1,677 yards and 17 scores in his career, and he owns a 28-25 regulars-season record as a starter.
In three postseason games, following the 2018 and 2019 seasons, he went 1-2 while completing 80 of 126 passes for 870 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.
–Field Level Media