The Cleveland Browns player says he’s sorry—but is he sorry sorry?
By Alexandra Jane, The Root
It looks like Cleveland Browns quarterback, Deshaun Watson, is seeking forgiveness for his “unsportsmanlike” conduct. Ahead of Friday’s preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Watson conducted an in-house interview with local station Cleveland News 5 where he apologized to the women who’ve accused him of sexual misconduct.
“I want to say that I’m truly sorry to all of the women that I have impacted in this situation,” Watson said during the pregame show interview.
According to ESPN, Watson has only granted interviews to two other reporters since coming over to Cleveland from the Houston Texans. He offered no apologies during either interview, instead stating that he had “no regrets” around his behavior during the massage sessions in question. In the second interview, Watson expressed that while he still did not regret his actions, he does regret the impact they’ve had on those around him.
Does this Friday’s statement show a change of heart?
“The decisions that I made in my life that put me in this position I would definitely like to have back,” Watson said on air, “but I want to continue to move forward and grow, learn, and show that I am a true person of character, and I am going to keep pushing forward.”
Just last week, independent arbiter Sue L. Robinson handed the quarterback a six-game ban for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. He and his team now wait to find out whether or not his suspension is to be extended, as the NFL is seeking harsher punishment.
Robinson presented a 16-page report which concluded that Watson had violated the personal conduct policy and demonstrated “egregious” and “predatory” behavior. The arbiter also stated that part of what prompted her decision to suspend Watson was his “lack of expressed remorse.”
25 women have filed civil lawsuits against Brown for sexual assault and other inappropriate misconduct during massage sessions conducted between March 2020 and March 2021. At this point, all lawsuits but one has been settled. The Texans have also reached settlements with 30 women who had made claims that the NFL should be held responsible for “enabling” Watson’s behavior.
Watson played an overall uneventful game on Friday in his time on field since January 2021. In the pregame interview, Watson shared that he was “super excited” to be playing.
“Each and every snap, I want to make sure I cherish that because I’m not sure when the next time I’ll be able to get out there with those guys,” he said.
Watson also shared that if he is asked to take more time away from the game, that he will take it as an opportunity to continue his personal growth journey.
“I know I have a lot of work to put in, especially on the field to be able to make sure I’m ready to play whenever that time comes whenever I can step back on the field,” he said. “But also, the biggest thing is I want to continue counseling and I want to make sure that I’m growing as a person, as an individual for my decision-making on and off the field. I want to make sure that I’m just evolving in the community as much as possible, and that is for the Cleveland community, which is the NFL community and beyond.”