CLEVELAND — As Deshaun Watson opens a new chapter of his career on Sunday, the Cleveland Browns quarterback will also be reminded of his past.
According to The Athletic's Kalyn Kahler, around 10 of the women who have accused Watson of sexual misconduct, including harassment and assault, will be at Sunday's game between the Houston Texans and Browns. The women will be attending Watson's matchup against his former team in a suite with their lawyer, Tony Buzbee, as the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback makes his regular-season debut in a Cleveland uniform.
“I will be there to welcome Deshaun back to Houston,” Buzbee told Kahler.
Sunday will mark Watson's first appearance in an NFL regular-season game since Jan. 3, 2021. In the time since, the Clemson product sat out the 2021 season after requesting a trade from Houston and amid more than two dozen accusations of sexual misconduct.
While two Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal charges, he settled lawsuits with 23 women -- all of whom were represented by Buzbee -- with two lawsuits still ongoing. After being traded to the Browns and receiving a record fully guaranteed $230 million contract, an NFL investigation determined that the 27-year-old signal-caller violated the league's personal conduct policy on the following three counts:
- Conduct that Qualifies as a Sexual Assault
- Conduct that Poses a Genuine Danger to the Safety and Well-Being of Another Person
- Conduct that Undermines, or Puts at Risk, the Integrity of the NFL
While former U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson -- who was jointly appointed by the NFL and NFL Players Association as the league's disciplinary officer -- initially issued a six-game suspension for Watson, the league exercised its ability to appeal to ruling to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or a league-appointed designee. But before the league-appointed designee, former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey, could issue a ruling, the league and Watson agreed on a settlement for him to serve an 11-game suspension and pay a $5 million fine.
After serving his 11-game suspension to open the 2022 season, Watson was reinstated on Monday with Cleveland head coach Kevin Stefanski stating that there was never any consideration for the 4-7 Browns to not start him vs. the Texans on Sunday.