Cleveland Browns’ Deshaun Watson, in interview, apologizes to ‘all of the women that I have impacted in this situation’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson made his first public apology in an interview Friday to the women who accused him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions.

“I really want to feel sorry for all the women I’ve influenced in this situation,” Watson said during an interview internal interview on the Browns pregame show which aired on Cleveland News 5.

The interview came ahead of Friday night’s preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who had Watson in the starting XI.

Prior to Friday, Watson had said in his only two interviews with reporters since joining the Browns from the Houston Texans that he did not “regret” any of his actions during massage sessions. In his second interview during the Cleveland minicamp in June, Watson reiterated that he had no regrets for his actions, but admitted that he regretted the impact the allegations had on those around him.

He indicated otherwise on Friday.

“The choices I made in my life that got me into this position I would definitely like to have back,” he said on the Browns’ pregame show, “but I want to keep moving forward and growing and learning and.” show that I am I am a real person with character and I will keep moving forward.”

Watson and the Browns are waiting to hear if he will be suspended longer than the six-game suspension he was given last week by independent umpire Sue L. Robinson for violating the league’s personal conduct guidelines. The NFL, demanding a harsher sentence, has appealed Robinson’s verdict, which will be heard by Peter C. Harvey, a former New Jersey attorney general who was appointed by Commissioner Roger Goodell. Harvey has no specific time limit to decide on the appeal, although the contract requires him to work “accelerated”.

In her 16-page report, which concluded that Watson had violated the personal conduct policy with “egregious” and “predatory” behavior, Robinson noted that an aggravating factor in her decision to sign Watson for six games lock, his “lack of expressed remorse” was. “

Watson has been accused of sexual assault and other inappropriate behavior during massage sessions in civil lawsuits filed by 25 women. The encounters alleged in the lawsuits took place from March 2020 to March 2021 while Watson was a member of the Texans. The Browns traded for Watson in March 2022, sending three first-round draft picks to Houston before giving Watson a new, fully guaranteed $230 million contract.

One of the 25 lawsuits was dropped after a judge ruled in April 2021 that plaintiffs would have to amend their filings to disclose their names. Two other women filed criminal complaints against Watson but did not sue him. Watson has settled or agreed to settle all but one of the remaining pending claims. In July, the Texans reached settlements with 30 women who made or were willing to make claims against the NFL organization for their alleged “enabling” of Watson’s conduct.

Friday was Watson’s first game since Jan. 3, 2021 with the Texans. He said in the pregame interview that he was “super excited” to finally play.

“Every single snap I want to make sure I appreciate that because I’m not sure when the next time I’ll be able to go out with these guys,” he said.

Watson had an uneventful debut, completing just one of five passes for 7 yards in three series before being replaced in Cleveland’s 24-13 win. Watson was not made available for the Browns’ post-game press conferences and declined to comment or expand on his pre-game interview when approached during the post-game locker room session open to reporters.

Watson was asked in the pre-game interview how he would use his time away from the team in terms of personal growth.

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

Information from The Associated Press was included in this report. Cleveland Browns’ Deshaun Watson, in interview, apologizes to ‘all of the women that I have impacted in this situation’

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