Browns QB Deshaun Watson won't talk about past, focuses on football




BEREA, Ohio - Deshaun Watson spoke for the first time since returning from his 11-game suspension on Thursday. However, the Browns quarterback kept all of his responses focused on the field and not on the last three months.

"Yeah, so first off, I just want to say that I'm excited to be back," Watson said in his first public comments since Aug. 18. "I'm excited to be back around my teammates. I also want to thank the Browns organization, the ownership, my teammates in that locker room, all the coaching staff for all the support that they had for me, especially my time away. … I also want to thank all the Cleveland fans in the city of Cleveland for embracing me, but also helping me adapt to the community. It's been awesome. It's been great being out to dinner and social places, being able to hang out with some of the fans and interact with them.

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'SOME ARE STILL ANGRY': Deshaun Watson accusers plan to attend his return to Houston

"And I also just want to thank just everyone that's been sending out some positive energy towards my way. But I understand that you guys have a lot of questions, but with my legal team and my clinical team there's only football questions that I can really address at this time."

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) pictured before an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) pictured before an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug.  

Watson last talked to the media on the same day he and the NFL reached a settlement on his suspension length. Part of that agreement included going through a clinical evaluation, and then to follow any treatment they advise.

Watson was asked about what he learned about himself through that process. However, setting the tone for the rest of the availability, he did not answer.

"I respect your question," Watson said. "I understand. But that's more in that phase of clinical and legal stuff and I've been advised to stay away from that and keep that personal."

The suspension stems from allegations through the legal system by more than two-dozen women of sexual assault and sexual misconduct during massage appointments. A total of 26 lawsuits − 23 of which have been settled − were filed against Watson, all of them involving incidents that occurred in 2020 and early 2021 while he was still the quarterback of the Houston Texans. One lawsuit was dropped shortly after being filed in March 2021.

Now, Watson will make his on-field return against the Texans, who dealt him to the Browns on March 18. He'll do so in a city in which he still owns a home, but which isn't expected to provide a hospitable homecoming for him in light of the way it all ended.

Watson's past will be watching him as he returns to Houston. Attorney Tony Buzbee, who represented 24 of the women who filed lawsuits against him, said earlier this week that at least 10 of the accusers planned on attending Sunday's game and sitting in a luxury suite.

It's not just the allegations that cloud Houston fans' opinion of Watson. It's also the trade demand he made prior to the 2021 season, which then led him to sit out that season before he was ultimately dealt to the Browns.

"I'm not sure," Watson said of the reaction in Houston. "My main focus is locked in on the game plan and trying to execute and make sure that I'm keeping the standard to stand up for the Cleveland Browns so we can try to win."

Contact Chris at ceasterling@thebeaconjournal.com. On Twitter: @ceasterlingABJ

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Deshaun Watson refuses to discuss the past in first comments back

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