Much was said and also not said during Friday’s two events involving the Cleveland Browns introducing quarterback Deshaun Watson as their new starter just one day after a second grand jury elected against indicting the three-time Pro Bowl selection still facing 22 civil lawsuits regarding numerous allegations of sexual assault and misconduct.
As has been the case since last year, Watson maintained his innocence but caused eyes to roll when he said he “didn’t know” the Browns had offered him a five-year contract reportedly worth $230 million in fully guaranteed money when he agreed to waive his no-trade clause last week to head to Cleveland.
Per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Browns general manager Andrew Berry was directly asked during the press conference: “Do you and does this organization believe there was no wrongdoing?”
Berry responded: “We feel very confident in Deshaun the person. We have a lot of faith in him. And we believe that as he gets into the community and our organization, he’s going to make a positive impact.”
Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam curiously didn’t attend that press conference but spoke with media members during a Zoom conference later in the afternoon. According to a transcript shared by Scott Patsko of Cleveland.com, they were asked if “they do not believe the 22 allegations from the women filing suits” against their new QB1.
“I think we would just say what we said earlier, and that is we trust the legal process,” Jimmy Haslam answered. “I think due process does exist in our country. The extensive amount of time that we spent researching him led us to make the decision we made.”
Florio noted that these were “yes or no” situations presented to individuals who weren’t under any oath but nevertheless managed to dance around whether or not they believe Watson’s denials.
“I’ve never assaulted any woman,” Watson emphatically said in front of a microphone and cameras. “I’ve never disrespected any woman.”