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As Deshaun Watson makes his Cleveland Browns debut, fans weigh his controversy against Pro Bowl talent

With Deshaun Watson's return to the NFL set for this Sunday, many fans are split on how to support the Cleveland Browns.

CLEVELAND — Whether you live in Cleveland or Houston, the return of Deshaun Watson to the National Football League has fans in a quandary.

"We hope that the controversy is behind him," said Cory Hammer, president of the Space City Dawg Pound. 

The Space City Dawg Pound has backed the Browns in Houston for roughly 10 years, but Sunday's game featuring Watson's debut for Cleveland is drawing more interest.

Watson faced more than two dozen sexual misconduct allegations that stem from his time with the Houston Texans. While the Space City Dawg Pound follows the Browns, they're familiar with Watson because of their ties to Houston.

"We're familiar with Watson from his time with the Texans," said Hammer. "We know he has tremendous talent and we're looking forward to that aspect of him being on the squad."

The talented 27-year-old quarterback can change the game for the Browns. Watson has precision when he throws and can scramble when he's under pressure, but many fans can't forget what he's alleged to have done.

"We were not too thrilled with the controversy that came with him," said Hammer.

Watson has received mixed reaction throughout social media in the week leading up to his first game with the Browns. However, Hammer believes lifelong Browns fans will root for Watson on Sunday.

"Most of our die-hard fans are just going to support whoever's under center," said Hammer.

The Browns will have support in Houston. A city more than 1,200 miles from Cleveland has many Browns fans. Hammer told 3News more than 230 Browns fans committed to attending a tailgate outside of NRG Stadium Sunday in Houston.

Closer to home, Bri Buckley got a local flavor on the Watson debut when she stopped by the studios of 92.3 The Fan. Afternoon drive host Nick Wilson hears from Browns fans all day long and says the majority aren't focused on Watson's sexual misconduct allegations.

"The consensus I heard from fans was, 'We feel like he served his time and now it's time to go focus on football,'" Wilson said.

Watson spoke on Thursday for the first time in months, avoiding the off-the-field controversy altogether. 

"I think it missed the mark," Wilson added. "You can be respectful and you can be thoughtful and you can be everything. You can't ignore the reason you were gone for 11 games, you can't ignore the reason why you had been sued 26 times in civil court."

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