18 massage therapists, with names attached, voice support for Deshaun Watson

Cincinnati Bengals v Houston Texans
Getty Images

None of the 21 women who have sued Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of misconduct during massages have attached their names to the lawsuits. On Wednesday, 18 message therapists who have worked with Watson issued comments regarding his behavior during massage sessions.

All 18 have attached their names to their statements, which were provided to PFT by Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin.

The 18 massage therapists are: Myah Roberson, Sara Fetherolf, Kaleigh Galindo, Masako Jones, Luretia Dany Craig, Norma Reyna, Kam Phommyuong, Nalisha Storm, Dr. Arielle Ball, Jas Brooks, Ashley Thomas, LaWonda Howard, Nadiyah Luqman, Ana Compean, Raechal Martin, Joanne Brito, Tina Nguyen, and Kya Hillman.

The statements extend beyond vouching for Watson, however. Some criticize and/or challenge the plaintiffs.

Said Roberson of Watson: “I started working with Deshaun in December 2019 after being referred to him by another therapist. He sent me a screenshot of a diagram that the head trainer of the Texans gave him, highlighting the muscles that needed to be worked on, which included the groin and hamstrings. He asked if I felt comfortable working on those areas and I said yes, because I am used to working on athletes. During the massage, Deshaun was more comfortable using a towel than draping sheets over the table; this isn’t unusual at all. I have several clients that prefer using a towel over sheet. We began using a towel, and that became the norm. When I saw that the first lawsuit mentioned a towel, I chuckled because I gave him that idea. And it’s not inappropriate because they teach you in massage school that using a towel is okay. Some of these accusations are so ludicrous. I just can’t see him doing any of those things. He was never inappropriate with me. I never felt threatened in any way.”

From Fetherolf: “On July 16, 2020, I performed a very thorough massage on Deshaun, focusing on his lower back, hips and groin, at a home he was renting while visiting Los Angeles. He is one of the most professional athletes I ever worked on. When the session was over, Deshaun helped me put away my table and walked me to my car. Because it was already quite late, Deshaun texted me during my drive home to make sure I had gotten home safely. My experience was nothing like the plaintiffs are describing. I don’t believe they are being truthful.”

From Galindo: “I worked on Deshaun Watson several times from August to December in 2020. He was respectful in every session. I never had any issues with him being inappropriate. Focus areas requested were hip flexors, groin [adductors], glutes, hamstrings, quads, lower back, abdominals. These are common areas of strain with pro athletes, especially those who play his position. He was always hospitable and communicated to make sure I always felt comfortable and safe. Many people idolize Deshaun Watson and perceive him as a legend. However, in getting to know him, I know he’s just your regular 25-year-old.”

From Jones: “I have worked with Deshaun several times since October 2019 and he’s never been anything other than professional and polite. We would focus on areas that were strained or injured, his shoulder, quads, calves, adductors, glutes, feet, things like that. That’s not odd or inappropriate; you have to think about how athletes use their bodies, the stances they’re in, how they move during games. All of those areas are typical, especially for football players. Deshaun never made me feel uncomfortable or intimidated. He’s rather quiet compared to other professional athletes I’ve worked with. I am just completely floored by these lawsuits. The behavior described in them doesn’t sound like him at all. I can’t even imagine him saying those things or doing those things.”

From Craig: “I massaged Deshaun three times. He was always pleasant. I never had any uncomfortable or inappropriate experiences with him. He often listened to his music and said very little. During my career, unfortunately I have experienced inappropriate situations where I stopped a massage. This never happened with Deshaun. He was respectful to my craft. Deshaun specifically came to me requesting I work on his lower body. I worked his hamstrings, quadriceps as well as his glutes and lower abs. Asking for these muscle groups to be massaged is not uncommon for athletes. Working those muscles from origin to insertion is imperative to properly treat the muscle. If a therapist is inexperienced in this type of work, I could imagine it may make them uncomfortable trying to translate the ‘layman’s’ suggestion on how to stop the discomfort. It is important for a therapist to talk through any request with the client to determine exactly what hurts; as even the most educated person loses their anatomy knowledge when in pain.”

From Reyna: “I frequently observed Deshaun attending sessions with another therapist who works in the same building next door to me. I have never observed Deshaun acting in an inappropriate manner and he never appeared to make anyone uncomfortable. He was always cordial when he walked by. Glutes, lower abs, psoas and adductors are very common areas for athletes – both males and females – to request their therapists to work on. You must release the psoas and gluteal muscles to release tension in the lower back. There’s a proper and professional way to address this area with proper draping and communication. When working the adductors and groin/pelvic area, it is not uncommon to accidentally graze the penis, but you don’t engage it. I teach my students to use a firmer touch or to move to a different area if a client gets aroused during a session, which sometimes happens. There’s a professional way to deal with it. If a therapist feels uncomfortable at any time during the session, he or she has the ability to end the session and immediately file a complaint with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations and vice versa. You don’t get a lawyer and file a lawsuit or go to the news media. You file a complaint immediately.”

From Phommyuong: “I first met Deshaun about three years ago. He was a regular of ours, and I worked on him twice — both times a combo Tai and deep tissue massage. He wore boxers for both sessions. I found him to very polite and respectful. I didn’t even know he was a professional football player during his first appointment. Myself and my co-workers were really shocked to hear about the lawsuits and allegations, because Deshaun never hinted at or did anything improper.”

From Storm: “Deshaun first contacted me in February of this year by direct message on Instagram after he saw a flyer that I had posted. I have worked on him two times and in both instances he asked for a sports massage with a focus on his abs, abductors, thighs and glutes. Each session lasted an hour and he supplied the draping towel, which was the size of a beach towel. Deshaun was very respectful and professional towards me. He was also very quiet, listening to music on his phone. After each session, he thanked me and said he would be contacting me again for another massage.”

From Dr. Ball: “I worked with Deshaun several times in 2019 and 2020. He was very quiet during our sessions, often played his music and zoned out. Like most athletes, he requested that I focus on his hamstrings, abs and adductors. He never made me uncomfortable and was always professional during our sessions.”

From Brooks: “I began providing massage therapy to Deshaun in 2018 and have massaged him at least 40 times since then. I worked with him once or twice a week during the season and as needed during the off season. Early on, he said he wanted me to focus on his hamstrings [he had a trainer that worked on his upper body] and just to work the lactic acid out of his legs. This included the groin, glutes and feet. He never asked me any questions and hardly ever spoke at all. In all that time, I never had a single uncomfortable or inappropriate experience with Deshaun.”

From Thomas: “I first worked on Deshaun at a hotel in Houston in December of 2019 after reaching out to him on Instagram. I remember Clemson was in town that day for a football game and Deshaun watched it during his session. Before the appointment, he laid out what he wanted in very clear terms: he was only interested in a professional massage. I worked on him four or five times total, the last time being in June 2020. He was always pretty quiet and never anything but respectful, he was the sweetest guy. The sessions were very professional – he arrived, got his massage, and he left. I’ve never heard anything negative about him and I was completely thrown off guard by the recent allegations.”

From Howard: “I first met Deshaun about a year ago when he reached out on Instagram. I had two therapy sessions with him, both of which were uneventful. On the first, he was just focused on his areas of concern and the pressure. He listened to music and scrolled on his phone on the second session. He was never inappropriate or did anything to make me feel uncomfortable. He asked that I focus on areas that are typical for athletes: glutes, hamstrings, quads and groin. He was appropriately and properly draped with a towel, which is common with sports clients. Deshaun was respectful before, during and after both visits. I am puzzled by the allegations in the lawsuits and in the media, as they are not consistent with Deshaun’s character.”

From Luqman: “I massaged Deshaun on August 12, 2020 at my office in Houston. He asked me to pay attention to his glutes, hamstrings and abductors. This was consistent with requests I have received from other athletes I have worked with in the past. He was always respectful and quiet, and I never felt uncomfortable.”

From Compean: “I first met Deshaun in 2017 at a spa where I worked, which he would visit once or twice a week. I worked on him six or seven times over the next three years. He would always want his back, shoulder and arms massaged, and he asked for deep tissue massages as well. Deshaun was always draped during massages and a couple of times he even asked for an extra towel because he was cold. He was completely covered. He never said much during the massage, he was very quiet. He would always say ‘yes ma’am or no ma’am.’ I never had any problem with him and I never heard anyone say anything bad about Deshaun.”

From Martin: “I massaged Deshaun four times at his house and at the Houstonian. When we first met, he asked if I was comfortable with glutes, lower legs, and groin and I said yes. As an athletic trainer, this was a normal request. Deshaun barely talked; he was super quiet and passive. He has been one of the easiest clients I have ever had. That’s what makes these accusations against him so infuriating. Any licensed therapist knows that you may graze the penis during the course of the massage and you are taught how to address it professionally. You are also taught that the therapist is in charge and to immediately speak up if something makes you uncomfortable.”

From Brito: “I started treating Deshaun in early 2020 and have provided him massage therapy three to five times in all, the last time being in November 2020. He tells you what areas he wants worked on – usually groin, glutes and abs, which is normal for athletes. I always found him to be polite, respectful, professional and absolutely nonaggressive.”

From Nguyen: “I first met Deshaun three years ago and have provided massages to him several times. He wanted to focus on stretching and deep tissue massage. He never asked for, or even hinted at, anything inappropriate. He was always polite and respectful. When I eventually realized who he was, I asked him to have his picture taken with me to give to my son, who is a big fan.”

From Hillman: “I worked with Deshaun to give him full body scrubs and body wraps. At no time did he act inappropriate with me. If he did, I would have talked with him and handled it with him.”

This list of comments from 18 different women who provided massage therapy to Watson stands in stark contrast to the allegations, all of which have been made without names being named. The accounts represent, in our view, the first major step taken by Deshaun Watson and his lawyers to defend himself in the court of public opinion.

Of course, it’s possible that all 39 individuals (plus the woman who spoke to SI.com and has not sued) are telling the truth, and that Watson only acted inappropriately with the 19 who has sued him. With 18 massage therapists putting their names on accounts of their positive experiences with Watson, attorney Tony Buzbee may feel compelled to provide something more substantial and more specific as it relates to his 21 clients.

75 responses to “18 massage therapists, with names attached, voice support for Deshaun Watson

  1. The one thing I find odd about this story is the number of therapist involved. I would think that other than the need for one here and there when on the road for away games and maybe a few for places you are vacationing wouldn’t it make sense to stick with someone that you are happy with? I think that there have been in the high 30’s mentioned as of now.

  2. Ok, so this is a total of 39 different massage therapists so far? He is innocent until proven otherwise. He’s been in the league four seasons and went to at least 39 different massage therapists outside of any provided by the training staff for the team. He must really enjoy or need them.

  3. What I wanna know: how the hell many massages is Deshaun Watson getting that he needs 39 different therapists?

  4. Wow, DeShaun uses a ton of massage therapists. That lone is kind of strange to me, but I don’t know how professional athletes typically go about utilizing this.

    That said, all this means is that these people weren’t harassed/assaulted/etc by Watson. It doesn’t mean he didn’t do it to these other individuals.

  5. How many massage therapists does this guy use??? Does he also use 40 different chiropractors?

  6. The way this is being fed to the masses by this lawyer really makes me no trust him or the allegations of the women. It’s sad because I would never want this to happen to anyone. That said, who goes on IG to find massage therapists?

  7. Last I checked it doesn’t matter how any person spends their money. Maybe Deshaun feels like a charitable cause for massage therapists. Perhaps he feels they are undervalued. Nothing wrong with that, especially since these women have come forward defending him.

  8. There is the most telling thing. Why wouldnt he go to the same one everytime? Seems shady

  9. If he chose to employ over 100, that shouldn’t matter. He has the $$$ needed to employ as many as he needs/desires.

    There really does need to be some accountability from the accusers at this point. Having that many sign on that they were treated professionally strengthens Watson’s case that he’s being squeezed to settle financially.

  10. I dont understand what you guys are saying about the number of therapist he sees? He plays football 16 weeks a year and has to practice. Travel, time, and availability would surely be an issue.

  11. People asking ‘Why so many massage therapists?’ may not have had professional massages before. If you handed me $25 million I’d get a massage every day.

  12. doesn’t that just mean he wasn’t attracted to them at the time? I mean, these 18 don’t have much in the way of character knowledge of the oens accusing him, and these 18 saying “he didn’t do it to me” does NOT mean he didn’t do it to THEM…

    so, what’s the point?

  13. What is alleged in the lawsuits is horrible, but you should not be able to destroy a person’s reputation,character,career anonymously.

  14. I began providing massage therapy to Deshaun in 2018 and have massaged him at least 40 times since then

    ——

    He used this lady 40+ times in 2 years, plus all the other ones too.

    Read some of the other ones, sounds like he gets a LOT of massages. Seems like he gets one every other day

    Maybe its his way of relaxing?

  15. I would think that as a multimillionaire sports celebrity someone in his organization would say, ” Deshaun, you are opening yourself to a potential problem seeing so many different massage therapists. Pick one or two, vet them and stop this nonsense”. Don’t their agents do this type of stuff?

  16. Just a thought Deshaun…..find one or two therapists you like and stick with them. Who the heck has 39 different therapists?

    We don’t go to dozens of dentists

  17. So if we assume everybody is being truthful here, this puts the mark for how many therapists he’s had at 40, that is insane, and i believe that it is a pretty big outlier compared to other top-flight atheletes.

    If anything, 18 or however many people named as not having had an issue does not make up for the 18 (or however many) people who did, and ultimately the number of therapists in total is absolutely nuts.

  18. To me, it STILL begs the questions: Why so many massages, why so many different women? It’s not normal.

  19. I don’t think this makes him look better. Looks like the he is spending all his time at massage parlors and now several have shown why he likes to be around them so often.

  20. This whole situation doesn’t pass the smell test IMO.

    Something went on here, and it doesn’t appear to be rational.

    Stay tuned it’s only the 1st quarter in this one.

  21. is this supposed to offset the therapsits that had bad encounters with him? I think not. And it is a bad look to try to minimize the situations those who were put in sexual type situations by Watson.

  22. I still REALLY don’t get how you people are fascinated by the number of masseuses. I’m neither a millionaire, nor an athlete, and I’ve had as many masseuses as this guy.

    There’s zero correlation between number of masseuses and sexual misconduct. I can have four masseuses work on me at once, twice a day, every day, with another feeding me grapes, and it doesn’t make me guilty of any form of sexual misconduct.

  23. Doctor, Lawyer, Mechanic, Barber, Pharmacy, Dentist – Don’t most people stick to one if they find a reliable, qualified professional? Why is it so different for a massage therapist? For something that personal, I wouldn’t want to engage in an elimination contest throughout the city.

  24. Still no criminal charges but we still have a bunch of posters that have convicted him. Arm chair QBs that are now arm chair judges. Seriously people get a new hobby.

  25. I go to Massage Envy and I have 2 good ones. I try different ones out but if I don’t like them I won’t use them again. Athletes need them, I need them and I didn’t play pro ball or work in construction or hard labor.

  26. I’ve been using the same massage therapist for the last 15 years. I use her 15-20 times per year. Why does he need 39 different women? That in and of itself is very odd.

  27. Ok, let’s do the math. Disregard years in college. Watson has been in the league for four years. That’s 48+ months of keeping fit for football. At one massage a week, a more than reasonable assumption, that would be 192+ people employed for the task. Add a second weekly massage during the season, subtract for vacations, adjust for out of town games, adjust for repeat therapists, and you have, reasonably, 300+ professionals employed over the past four years. Based on these numbers, 40+ therapists is a nothing.

  28. This is a distraction. Hardin and Watson know the names of the victims (uhh, Watson hired them and the dates of the assaults are in the suits), but they know that their side can’t leak the victims’ names without torpedoing Watson’s chances in court.

  29. Most of you people are focusing on the wrong thing. Who the hell cares how many massage therapists he goes to? These women go back to like 2017 and cover at least 3 or 4 different states. If he wants to get a massage from a different person every single day, that’s none of anyone else’s business. What you all should be focused on is that 18 women put their names and reputations on the line here and have nothing to gain by doing so.

  30. I never thought we’d see the day when public support from 18 different massage therapists would be seen as a good thing.

  31. No law against having multiple massage ladies. I would have multiple many things with that kinda bread.

  32. It’s amazing this guy has any time for football with all the massages he’s getting.

  33. “I’m neither a millionaire, nor an athlete, and I’ve had as many masseuses as this guy.”

    No, you haven’t.

  34. With the super high number of masseuses, the optics to me suggest he’s fishing for someone to provide the true services he’s looking for.

  35. This is as much a PR stunt from Hardin as Buzbee’s social media posts. We still know very little so all I’ll say is it’s pretty easy to identify yourself when you’re not an alleged victim. Ask any woman who has been subjected to sexual harassment of any form how easy it was for her to put herself out there in public with the embarrassment, shame, and plethora of other potential negative emotions that can come with that.

  36. And what they say has no legal bearing on the case. The ability to prove or disprove what the PLAINTIFFS are saying is all that matters.

  37. It just doesn’t add up that someone who was apparently so reliant on regular massages and also had the means to hire the most highly regarded in the field would just slide into the DMs of some “therapist” advertising on Instagram.

  38. Who uses more than a dozen massage therapists? Seriously, you find one that works for you and stick with that person. I almost don’t think this helps him as much as he might think.

  39. Anyone who has watched Watson run for his life with the Texans offensive line over the years can see why he needs so many massage therapists

  40. It’s plausible that all 40 women are telling the truth about their experiences. But it only takes 1 accuser to be proven right.

  41. The SI article giving a first-hand account from a massage therapist who is not part of the Buzbee suit is disturbing.

  42. Why didn’t anyone question the number of therapist before this?

    ——————–
    Because nobody was accusing then, now it might be relevant…or not.

  43. They said vs They said…I have no idea what happened,but I’m inclined to believe the accusing ladies . But I am troubled by the timing of all this…The very month Watson wants out of his contract and out of town, the roof caves in..

  44. Not sure why its relevant that a bunch of non-victims who are in no danger of punishment or harassment decided to attach their names while a bunch of people who will become public targets the moment they are identified prefer to remain anonymous.

  45. It’s not about the 18 people who think he’s an upstanding citizen and customer…… everybody thought he was a good guy. It’s about the 18 that he had problems with. Uh oh.

  46. Does not matter how many therapists come forward to vouch for him. If even one of the accusers is credible then Watson has a problem.

  47. Ok, so if you have someone that does a great massage, you go back to them… not to 100 other women…

  48. Innocent until proven guilty, the attorney for the 19 people seems like an ambulance chaser.

  49. I probably missed it…why need 40 (that we know of) massage therapists? And does team not help out players needing reliable trainers etc to do stuff like this? Yeah he’s mega money but I’d rather pay for his massage therapy than…well, any of this

  50. For those asking “why does he use so many massage therapists?”. He’s a professional athlete who travels for half of his playing season and spends his offseason training in different places. These therapists are professionals with schedules too. It’s not likely that the same one would be readily available to massage him at any given time. Plus, I’m sure it’s far less expensive to find somebody locally than to employ a massage therapist/masseuse full time.

  51. 1st the plaintiffs attny says he sent evidence to the Houston pd, then the police dept says they never got it. Then the attny says it will be filed. Then he says he won’t because watsons attnys son works for the police dept. If the women are telling the truth then they really should get a new lawyer imo

  52. Don’t forget. Busbee claims to have been a neighbor of the Texans’ owner. This has smelled rotten from the start, and it smells worse now.

  53. There are plenty of situations where a 50-50 ratio is more than acceptable.
    Don’t think this is such a situation.

  54. If you’re a professional football player, a franchise quarterback making millions, he’s probably getting a massage once a day, maybe twice a day during the season. They last 1-2 hours. One of them said he was watching game tape during it, from the experiences described above, it sounds like his just hour or two a day to zone out and relax and relieve the stress on his body physically and then mentally being a public figure. That being said, this doesn’t prove he didn’t engage in misconduct in other instances. There is a lot more information that is going to come out and we need everything before we know. I don’t think the amount of masseuses or massages is crazy when you think about the strain and damage a football player takes, not to mention his injury history in his lower body.

  55. That proves nothing. Just because Watson didn’t abuse every massage therapist doesn’t mean that he didn’t act inappropriately towards some of them.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.