Suspended QB Deshaun Watson returns to Browns facility

BEREA, Ohio — Quarterback Deshaun Watson returned to the Cleveland Browns’ training facility Monday.

Watson violated the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy by sexually harassing massage therapists, as defined by the NFL. He is serving an 11-game suspension but can now attend team briefings, meet individually with the coaches and train at the team’s facility.

“We’ll be working through what we’re allowed to do with him for the foreseeable future,” said Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, who spoke to Watson on Monday morning. “He’s in the briefing rooms with our boys. … It’s great for him and for us to have him back with his teammates.”

Watson is unable to train with the team until November 14. He won’t be eligible again until Week 13 when the Browns take on his former team, the Houston Texans, on December 4.

As of August 30, Watson has been barred from contact with Browns coaches or from entering the practice facility. He trains alone with his personal quarterback coach, Quincy Avery.

“He’s in a good place,” said Stefanski. “I think he worked really hard, was there [Cleveland], worked on site and made sure he stayed physically fit. Now he just needs to catch up a bit in the briefing room.”

On Aug. 18, the NFL and NFL Players Association reached a settlement on Watson’s 11-game ban after he was accused by more than two dozen women of sexual assault and inappropriate sexual misconduct during massage sessions. Watson was also fined $5 million and had to undergo a mandatory treatment program.

Over the summer, Watson agreed to settle 23 of the 24 lawsuits against him. Two other women filed criminal complaints against Watson but did not sue him.

Two grand juries in Texas declined to enter charges against Watson earlier this year. But Sue L. Robinson, an independent umpire appointed jointly by the league and the players’ union, noted that “the NFL had its burden of proving, by overriding the evidence, that Mr. Watson was involved in sexual assault.” . Robinson also concluded in her report that Watson’s behavior was both “outrageous” and “predatory”.

Watson has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said people were not interested in hearing his side of the story.

“I will continue to stand by my innocence, just because settlements and things like that happen doesn’t mean a person is guilty of anything,” he said Aug. 18 after the settlement agreement. “I feel like there is an opportunity for a person to stand up and prove their innocence and we’ve proven that legally and we’re just going to keep moving forward as individuals and as a person.”

The Browns traded for Watson in March, giving the Texans three first-round draft picks. Cleveland also gave Watson a new five-year contract worth a guaranteed $230 million, the richest contract in NFL history.

Cleveland (2-3) meets the New England Patriots on Sunday.

https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/34769040/suspended-qb-deshaun-watson-returns-browns-facility Suspended QB Deshaun Watson returns to Browns facility

Emma Bowman

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