After ALL That, Deshaun Watson Says He’s Only Focused On Football Now

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After two years of off-field drama, a criminal investigation, two dozen civil lawsuits, two grand jury sessions, and an NFL investigation that led to a settlement on multiple violations of the league’s Personal Conduct Policy, Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson wanted to make it about football.

Only about football.

“I understand that you guys have a lot of questions,” Watson said Thursday. “But with my legal team and my clinical team, there’s only football questions I can really address at this time.”

Blockbuster Week For Deshaun Watson And Cleveland Browns Begins NOW
Deshaun Watson is back on the field on Sunday against the Texans.

Watson Saga Turns Back To Football

It is true Watson has one pending lawsuit alleging, like the 24 others filed against him since early 2021, that he sexually harassed and abused a Houston-area female massage therapist.

So he’s obviously being guarded about saying something that could be used against him. That was sort of the circumstance when he faced the other suits, 23 of which he settled out of court.

But the truth is the entire Watson saga that included much legal wrangling on both the civil and criminal side ultimately turned into one big negotiation. One big settlement.

Watson settled with his accusers. And he settled with the NFL and NFL Players Association after independent discipline officer Sue L. Robinson concluded the NFL proved Watson engaged in sexual assault of the victims and suspended him for six games.

The NFL appealed that punishment and got a settlement that forced Watson to miss 11 games and pay a $5 million fine.

Deshaun Watson talks to reporters Thursday.
Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson finally addressed reporters on Thursday. (AP Photo/David Richard)

Browns Watson Settled So As To Play

“I was just trying whatever I could do to play football in 2022,” Watson said of that settlement. “Most of the settlement stuff with the NFL was mostly my agency and legal team. I had no control. My main focus was doing everything I needed to do to play this year.”

Watson last spoke to reporters in August, prior to leaving the team while on suspension. At that time he denied any wrongdoing and suggested his full story had not been told. He didn’t seem interested in telling that story anytime soon on Thursday.

“Who knows what the future holds,” he said.

Watson also declined to say what, if anything, he’d learned from the league-mandated counseling.

“That’s more in that phase of clinical and legal stuff,” he said. “I’ve been advised to stay away from that and keep that personal.

“I’m focusing on football,” Watson added. “That’s my main focus is football and preparing to be the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns so I can execute the game plan to try to get a win this Sunday.”

Watson’s Browns and 2022 regular-season debut comes on Sunday in Houston against his former team the Texans. It will come 700 days after his last start in January of 2021 when he was playing for the Texans.

So the reception from whatever sparse crowd gathers in Houston to watch their 1-9-1 team play against their former quarterback should be interesting.

Deshaun Watson returns to play Texans after NFL suspension.
Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson faced taunting from the crowd in his one preseason appearance with the Browns. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images).

Watson Likely To Face Tough Texans Crowd

“I’m excited. I’m just excited to play football in general. In front of Cleveland Browns fans, but also in front of some of the Houston Texans fans,” Watson said.

“I respect the whole organization of the Houston Texans. I respect the McNair family. I respect everyone that was there that drafted me in 2017. It’s been great memories, fun memories. I still have a home in Houston. I still have friends and family that’s still in Houston, relationships that are still there. People — some of the players on the team I played with and have seen come up through practice squad or injuries. So I’m excited to get in front of those fans. I have so much love for the city of Houston, H-town. And everyone in that city pretty much knows that. So I’m excited to do that.”

But the 27-year-old is also aware feelings may not be mutual. 

“I’m focused on being the starting quarterback and executing the game plan,” Watson said. “That’s not my main focus. I’m not worried about the atmosphere. I’ve got to go in and make sure I execute the game plan.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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