Last week, Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson declined to comment on the bombshell New York Times story that said, among other things, he booked massage appointments with at least 66 different women from the fall of 2019 through spring 2021. At that time, Watson was facing 24 active civil lawsuits regarding allegations of sexual misconduct during massage sessions, but it was reported on Monday that two more lawsuits will soon be filed against him.
Despite the controversy and uncertainty that hovers over Watson ahead of the summer months, the 26-year-old served as the team’s QB1 for the first day of mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. As has been the case throughout the process, Watson maintained his innocence while speaking with media members early in the afternoon.
“I’ve never forced anyone,” Watson explained, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “I never harassed anyone or I never disrespected anyone. I’ve never assaulted anyone. I’ve been saying it from the beginning and I’m going to continue to say it until the facts come out.
Watson continued: “I understand these allegations are very serious. …I’m focused on clearing my name.”
Two grand juries declined to indict Watson, but the NFL could suspend him if it finds he violated its code of conduct. Jacoby Brissett is second on the depth chart and presumably would start if Watson is made ineligible to play.
Watson was also asked Tuesday if it’s accurate he made 66 massage appointments over a 17-month period.
“I don’t think so,” he responded.
Watson added that dealing with the lawsuits and accusations has been “tough” and that the Browns have offered counseling and other resources. It was reported ahead of this past weekend that, for better or for worse, the Browns remain “all-in” on Watson and won’t be looking to void his fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract.