Did Deshaun Watson dupe NFL into thinking he was accepting responsibility?


Last Friday, with a settlement of the Deshaun Watson‘s disciplinary case suddenly a possibility, the Browns quarterback for the first time apologized to the women “impacted” by his behavior. Immediately after resolving the situation on Thursday, Watson issued a statement in which he accepted accountability for his decisions.

Then, he basically said, “Psych!”

Like a criminal defendant who signs a plea agreement before proclaiming he didn’t do it, Watson insisted that he’s innocent during an ill-advised press conference. His agent, David Mulugheta, after deleting a tweet that attacked the ruling of Judge Sue L. Robinson that Watson didn’t appeal, tweeted that Watson has always stated that he is innocent.

That’s not what Judge Robinson found. In the decision that the NFLPA urged the NFL to accept, she found that Watson violated the Personal Conduct Policy in three different ways, by committing four instances of non-violent sexual assault. She found that his behavior was “egregious” and “predatory.” And now, after agreeing to a deal that extended her punishment by five games and added a fine of $5 million, Watson and Mulugheta have retreated to the long-held insistence that Watson didn’t do anything wrong.

The league has not yet responded to an email from PFT posing the simple question of whether Watson’s remarks constitute a violation of the terms of the settlement. Maybe he hasn’t violated the deal yet, but the “I didn’t do it” attitude doesn’t bode well for one specific aspect of the terms of the deal.

As noted by Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, as part of an inherently contradictory stream of tweets and retweets that both carry water for Watson and dump it on his head, “Watson has to comply with [evaluation] and treatment recommendations of a third-party behavioral expert to be reinstated,” and his “reinstatement is contingent upon his compliance with the treatment plan.”

“If he doesn’t comply, his reinstatement could be delayed, plus further discipline,” Schefter says.

The evaluation and treatment should include frank, direct questions for Watson as to whether he truly accepts responsibility for his behavior. Whether he acknowledges that he engaged in non-violent sexual assault. Judge Robinson found that his “categorical denial” wasn’t truthful. She also found that his claim that he never got an erection during a massage was flat-out false, given that multiple massage therapists who vouched for him acknowledged that he became aroused during massages that they provided to him.

That’s why we shouldn’t assume Watson automatically will be back in Week 13 at Houston. If/when the person providing him with evaluation and/or treatment plays the video from today’s press conference and Watson doesn’t have a persuasive explanation for his decision to insist on his innocence, it’s possible that Watson won’t receive the appropriate certification to return and play.

It’s not some small issue. As noted by Schefter, the league viewed Watson’s apology from last Friday as an “important first step.” Today, he took three steps back.

Our guess? If he doesn’t make a clear and unequivocal public statement of responsibility before Week 13, there’s a chance he won’t be playing for the Browns when they visit the Texans.

83 responses to “Did Deshaun Watson dupe NFL into thinking he was accepting responsibility?

  1. This guy needs a one year suspension. Enough screwing around. Watson is bad news and has zero interest in accepting responsibility. Very bad look for the NFL. Clean it up Roger. Either that or stop your marketing campaigns aimed at women.

  2. Hard not to be cynical here, but not even my sweet grandmother, and life time Cleveland fan, fell for that weak-assed apology he read off to the media. Difficult to believe the NFL could be so gullible.

  3. The NFL wants him on the field or they would have stood up for women and given him a real punishment. Now they’ll just get him to repeat his insincere “sorry to anyone I impacted” half apology and then they’ll make sure he says “im sorry to them” or “no comment” to everything else until people forget about it.

  4. This goes to show he has no remorse so fine him 2 years and 225 million dollars. Give the money to a woman’s charity

  5. Browns are morons.

    All Watson, the scum, had to do was very early on say he was wrong and will change and go away for 6mo and keep his head down. What an idiot.

  6. Doesn’t matter. The NFL wanted him in the league for the same reason it protects QB’s from injury: Ratings. They are banking on us forgetting this in 3 months. Given how we usually allow things to blow over, it likely will. There’s no way they’re going to allow a therapist or whatever to reopen the wound.

  7. I used to kinda sorta root for the Browns. Perenial underdog, rust belt city, Bernie Kosar, I always wanted them to succeed. Now, after they hitched their wagon to this predator, I hope they never win a game again.

  8. The real question is did the NFL dupe us into thinking they care the first game back is against his old team it’s still all about the dollar dollar bill y’all

  9. Come on… you really think there’s a chance he “won’t be playing against the Texans”? It’s over. Whether it should be or not, it’s over. Next time you try to anticipate what these guys in the NFL will say or do next, ask yourself “what would a middle school kid do”. That’s your best predictor.

  10. He probably wanted a 12 game suspension and the league would only give him 11. He’s trying to rectify that.

  11. Of course he did. Just like their slimeball owner Jimmy Haslam not speaking to any of the accusers.

  12. He’s not playing this season. Why would they risk him for three games? If they are in contention at that point it will have been because the team is playing great. But it would be SO Browns-Ian to sit a healthy QB who led his team into a potential playoff berth to play a guy who hasn’t played a down in two years. They will deserve what they get.

  13. It doesn’t matter at this point. Final sentence has been pronounced, now time for the nfl to sweep it under the rug to make it all disappear asap. Out of sight, out of mind. Still just doesn’t feel like justice has been served if you ask me.

  14. If the NFL actually believed Watson was even slightly remorseful and taking accountability, then they are more ignorant and oblivious than I could have imagined. On the bright side, it will show you don’t have to be very intelligent to become a billionaire.

  15. Dear Mr. Florio, With All Due Respect, Being Accountable for Ones Actions/“Optics” of proposed heinous behavior does NOT Necessarily constitute Guilt. It’s not unfathomable that Watson is TRULY Sorry for making the poor decisions that placed himself/Franchise/NFL in the position it’s in.

  16. How weak sauce is the nfl, dude hasnt shown one ounce of remorse or responsibility for this whole thing, then magically releases an interview where he appologies but doesnt actually appologise, and somehow the nfl thought that was enough and was clearly genuine when we all could tell is was bs?

  17. Everyone makes mistakes sure a true man might humble himself enough to admit it
    How entitled can he possibly be?

  18. The Browns guaranteed him 230 million, structured his contract way in his favor to protect him, and traded a boatload of picks for him. He’s playing the first chance he gets and the Browns won’t care what contrition he has. Besides the NFL wants it off the radar, so he’ll be playing and that’s that.

  19. His first statement wasn’t an apology. “Impacted” by his behavior? That’s not admitting his behavior was wrong, just like saying, “sorry my comment offended you,” doesn’t admit a comment was offensive.

    What a surprise… slime continues to be slimy.

  20. My wife and daughters are finished watching NFl, his punishment is a total JOKE to women in this country!!!

  21. Clearly. However, as some might say, the fix is in. The NFL, caught between the devil and the deep blue sea on this one, want to move on. Without a court case. People will continue to judge DW’a ethics based on their own understanding. I don’t think even winning will make this one go away for him. I, personally, don’t think it should. $245 million should comfort him somewhat, I imagine.

  22. The NFL doesnt care if he genuinely cares at all. They just want his pr to be good and they’ll coach/threaten him into saying apologetic things like they have already.

  23. Is it so difficult for Watson to admits what everyone knows??
    He apologized for the pain caused. But pretends he was an innocent bystander in the process.
    And he and his lawyers should know better. Otherwise they would not have settled 24 cases for millions of dollars.
    He does not need to admit to any crimes. But at least admit to poor judgment.
    Watson’s behavior might not have been criminal but was abusive. Watson should admit that you were the person that caused the pain and move on with his life. The salary he got should compensate for the lack of endorsements.

  24. What a fine young man. Those who raised him must be proud. The Cleveland community must be proud. The NFL must be proud.

  25. Both sides are playing the required game. More digging for the sanctimonious outrage nonsense.Time to move on.

  26. Letting him back on the field made no sense from the NFLs perspective – unless there was a hidden factor.

    Whatever is going on I feel sure he will not be receiving any more punishment.

  27. Not sure on the legality but I would love to see the NFL pull out of the agreement and ban the guy indefinitely. Watson needs some serious therapy if he can’t see what he’s been accused of is wrong. There is TONS of evidence in the public to prove he did it, if I was on a jury I would say it’s beyond a reasonable doubt at this point. He’s guilty as hell and has shown zero remorse or ability to understand what he did and how it affected the women involved. Anyone who can’t see this is either a simping Browns fan or living in a dream world.

  28. “I’m gonna stand on my innocence” is Watson’s concession that he still doesn’t get it. Same with his phony apology with Aditi Kinkhabwala last week. And the analogy to a plea bargained criminal defendant is spot on. Every defense lawyer tenses up when the judge asks the defendant if he would like to address the court, and that includes lawyers who have told their clients to say either “I am truly sorry for what I did,” or “no thank you, your honor.” Either Watson’s agent dropped the ball or Watson is a truly lost soul.

  29. Can we please give this some time and space and then revisit it after a season or so and then look at the body of work or effort Watson puts forth to show he is remorseful and then comment on its worth?
    To continue to hammer him does nobody any good right now. He has been given a clean slate,let’s see what he does with it.

  30. Nfl is a joke, next thing you know the browns will bring in OJ Simpson as running back coach. Dude should’ve been banned, flat out.

  31. Still in an active civil case and the statue of limitations on the criminal side can still be changed. This narrative spin is ridiculous. He literally can’t just say yeah I did xyz that would put him in a deeper hole than public backlash.

  32. There is a old saying “money talks and BS walks” With the money he and the NFL are making, he will walk.

  33. the nfl administration is a clown show. pure and simple. if you were to describe how to screw this up, they hit every mark. now they are trying to scare watson by saying “boo” (immediately after they announced they are hiding behind the hedges). the only positive that could ever come out of this is if the owners decided they could do much better for the $63.9M+ they pay red-nose roger and the rest of the clown car.

  34. I always love that term from busted athletes: “I accept responsibility”, and let’s not forget, “I just want to move forward”. Both mean nothing.

  35. redlikethepig says:
    August 18, 2022 at 9:01 pm
    Rich and famous people can get away with almost everything. Get used to it.

    10Rate This


    No, we won’t. We must stop fascism and oligarchs in this country. Arrest, try and convict.

  36. The fact that the NFL and NFLPA agreed somehow to base the entire disciplinary process and punishment based on only 4 out of the nearly 30 victims (not counting who knows how many women didn’t come forward for one reason or another) is the most egregious aspect of this whole thing. If Watson’s behavior was characterized as ‘predatory’ by the first judge and Goodell based on 4 women, how would it be described taking into account all of the known victims? How could the punishment be this lenient if they actually considered more than the <15% of the victims they met with. NFL discipline and punishments are so inconsistent and stupid it's unbelievable.

  37. pmars64 says:
    August 19, 2022 at 2:19 am
    No. The NFL duped the masses by portraying Watson to be far worse than he really is.
    The league consists of 32 teams with essentially 32 owners.
    The owners run the NFL, it’s their league. Why in God’s name would a business person want the product to be portrayed far worse than it really is?

  38. I know I’m apparently in the minority but can we pretty please move on from this story. The punishment has been handed down, and both sides have agreed to it. Yes there is a possibility it could be extended due to unmet requirements on Watson’s part. I absolutely agree that it is concerning with his flip flopping on his accountability for his actions. But he’s got 3 months of therapy ahead of him, so I personally would like for this to play out and allow someone to rehabilitate themselves. He’s obviously not there currently. It won’t happen over night.

  39. What a narcissist and phony. Watson will strike again because he can’t stop himself, because he sees nothing wrong with all of this. The NFL and NFLPA have just been enabling him into thinking that his action are acceptable because he apologized and then proclaimed his innocence. What a sicko.

  40. The morals of this organization STARTS AND STOPS at the top with ownership. Need I say more ??

  41. Scumbag owner employing scumbag QB. No women should go to a Browns game either in Cleveland or when Cleveland visits.

  42. I doubt the league cares.
    They just want to look good in the public eye.

    The Texans knew.

    The Browns knew.

    There are no good guys here.

  43. I don’t necessarily see any inconsistency in Deshaun Watson’s statements of apologizing for impacting the women while at the same time maintaining innocence of sexual assault. Judge Robinson cited Watson’s behavior of letting his towel fall away and thus exposing himself to the women. Although Robinson called that “non-violent sexual assault”, many people likely including Watson would call that indecent exposure and not sexual assault. Had this been part of a criminal case, there is nothing wrong with the defendant pleading guilty to indecent exposure and apologizing to the victims while at the same time continuing to maintain innocence of sexual assault.

  44. Mr Watson is a truly creepy and gross man. From what we learned over this time is he’s a predator. Would it be better if he got up there and said he was truly sorry? Nobody would believe it, I certainly would not. I’d rather he be the ugly poor excuse of a man he is then read one of those Ryan Leaf written apologies then toss it away.

  45. Maybe you fail to forget he has a civil lawsuit against him. Admitting guilt (or a full-fledged apology) would be stupid until the case is settled.

    Can’t you understand this?

  46. We must not forget that the treatment he will receive is meant to change his behavior. And, his denial of doing anything wrong is part of that behavior. Can’t we give the treatment a chance to kick in?

  47. doyouknowgod says:
    August 19, 2022 at 11:29 am
    Maybe you fail to forget he has a civil lawsuit against him. Admitting guilt (or a full-fledged apology) would be stupid until the case is settled.

    Can’t you understand this?
    Finally, a comment that really says it all. Bravo, Bravo, Bravo….

  48. Watson looked and behaved like a predator who was mad that he got caught, at yesterday’s press conference. Not a good look for him, or the Brown’s!

  49. Mike – It is plain as day this guy is either ridiculously arrogant or seriously disturbed (and maybe both). Question I have is does Watson open himself up to another grand jury procedure and potential indictment if he admits to any wrongdoing/apologizes? Has the statute of limitations expired yet?

    Thanks for sharing your expertise.

  50. Goodell, you wimp, you should have handle this yourself!! And Calvin Ridley should be calling his lawyer and suing the hell out of you!!

  51. touchback6 says:
    August 19, 2022 at 9:35 am

    redlikethepig says:
    August 18, 2022 at 9:01 pm
    Rich and famous people can get away with almost everything. Get used to it.

    10Rate This


    No, we won’t. We must stop fascism and oligarchs in this country. Arrest, try and convict.
    The problem is that Watson wasn’t convicted of anything. The legal system chose not to indict Watson TWICE. I don’t even think Watson was arrested for anything.

  52. Geez, Deshaun, this isn’t that difficult. The line is this:
    “At the time I did not think I was committing a crime. I realize now how wrong I was. I fully understand the need for me to make major personal improvements in this matter and I am committed to doing so.”
    Also, Goodell, you will absolutely go down in history as the worst commissioner in all of professional sports. You are an embarrassment to the game. Shame on YOU.

  53. The NFL is not America’s Moral Compass, they are not the Punishment of Last Resort for their employees, they are not the Supreme Legislature creating new laws to improve society. The NFL runs a professional football league. The whole “personal conduct” issue is driven by vindictive, partisan, holier-than-thou, hypocritical, and supremely jealous fans. If anyone needs to be kicked out of football and kept away forever, it is them.

  54. Would Haslam allow Deshaun to be left alone in a room with his wife or daughter? I think we all know the answer…

  55. So if the final lawsuit is not settled, and he “can’t admit to his transgressions, how will he pass the therapy requirements to be reinstated?….hmm….

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