Deshaun Watson Apologizes Before 2022 Debut (And Possible Finale): It Was All A Disaster

Before the game, before he was greeted with resounding boos from the fans at Jacksonville’s TIAA Bank Field, Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson found Browns club owner Jimmy Haslam on the field and went over to the man who traded for him and signed him to a $230 million contract.

“Thank you for the opportunity,” Watson told Haslam.

Then Deshaun Watson, headed for a six-game NFL suspension and likely much longer on appeal for acts of sexual abuse and harassment he perpetrated against 24 Houston area massage therapists, played his first game since the final day of the 2020 season on Jan. 3, 2021.

That’s 586 days between NFL starts.

And on Friday night Watson looked every bit like a player who had been away from the game that long.

He played three series. Two of those ended in punts. The other ended in a fumble by running back D’Ernest Johnson.

Watson completed 1 pass on 5 attempts for 7 yards. His quarterback rating was a terrible 39.6.

Watson was rusty or nervous. Or both. His first attempt sailed over the head of a wide open Anthony Schwartz — a pass any accomplished NFL quarterback should complete and Watson has likely completed 100 times in the past.

So call it rust or nerves or whatever, Watson looked off.

Then again, his entire offense looked off. Schwartz dropped two passes. Johnson had the fumble. There were two penalties.

And, talk about a rough night for the Browns, starting center Nick Harris was injured in the first quarter and left the field on a cart.

So what to make of this?

Well, it was obviously bad. It showed that Watson was not only rusty but his presence didn’t exactly raise his teammates to any motivated performance. And, sure, that was not the Browns’ starting offense playing in the first preseason game.

Nick Chubb wasn’t there, nor was Amari Cooper and several others. But the Browns as constituted seemed lifeless.

And that was just the problem on the field.

Off the field is where Watson has had his biggest problems. And continues to have problems.

Before the game, indeed, before the team left for the stadium, the Browns made Watson available to Aditi Kinkhabwala at the team hotel.

Kinkhabwala, a reporter on the Browns’ preseason games crew, asked the pertinent question about how remorseful Watson feels about violating the NFL Personal Conduct Policy in three different ways, per the ruling from disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson. Robinson said the NFL proved Watson met the definition for sexually assaulting some of the women who later sued and or filed criminal complaints against the him.

Robinson, you should know, ruled Watson’s “lack of expressed remorse and his tardy notice to the NFL of the first-filed lawsuit” was an aggravating factor in her discipline.

So Watson tried to address that.

“I want to say that I’m truly sorry to all of the women that I have impacted in this situation,” Watson said. “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 learn and show that I am a true person of character and I am going to keep pushing forward.”

Watson was not made available to non-team employed reporters after the game, suggesting he only wanted to deal with the couple of questions he knew were coming.

This will be parsed by people more adept at such things than me, but the statement seems to include a lot about what his actions did to him and how they affected him and not a ton about what happened to the women.

Watson not only “impacted” but sexually assaulted, per the NFL’s investigation, some of those women.

And so on a night that Watson looked bad on the field, he also failed to impress in the public relations arena.

It should be noted this could be Watson’s final game of the 2022 season.

NFL appeals officer Peter Harvey is studying the Robinson ruling and will make a determination on a an appeal by the league seeking a one-year suspension and a fine of between $10 million to $12 million.

If that appeal goes as most people within in the league with an opinion believe — with the NFL winning — then Watson’s next outing will likely come in a civil court where both the NFL Players Association and his representatives may ask for a temporary injunction and to have the appeal ruling set aside.

Watson was keenly aware of this possibility even before his unremarkable quarter of play. He knew those five passes could be his last of 2022.

“Each and every snap, I want to make sure I cherish that,” he said, “because I’m not sure when the next time I’ll be able to get out there with those guys …”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

4 Comments

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  1. You think he’s bad now? Wait till he sits for ANOTHER year! LOL. I love it! The Browns may have made the dumbest deal in sports history. Giving a sexual predator 230 mil guaranteed after sitting out a year. They deserve every bit of this train-wreck for being so damned stupid!!!

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