Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will be on the field when they take on his former Houston Texans team on Sunday.
Watson just finished serving an 11-game NFL-mandated suspension stemming from north of 20 accusations of sexual misconduct.
For the multi-time Pro Bowler, the idea of moving on from the scandal-filled past two calendar years has to be seen as appealing. With that said, those on hand to ask questions of the quarterback during Thursday’s press conference in Berea were rightfully seeking out answers to questions many of us have.
Unfortunately, Watson made it clear early and often that he was not going to talk about non-football stuff in his first meet and greet with the media in four months.
“I understand that you guys have a lot of questions. But with my legal team and my clinical team, there’s only football questions I can really address at this time,” Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson to reporters, via ESPN.
Watson, 27, settled 23 civil lawsuits that were filed against him earlier this year after two separate grand juries in Texas opted against recommending criminal charges. There’s currently two more oustanding lawsuits. Hence, why Watson refused to answer specific off-field questions.
As part of his deal with the NFL, Watson received a $5 million fine and has to undergo a mandatory treatment program. He was asked about what he learned from counseling, but would not answer.
“That’s more in that phase of clinical and legal stuff. I’ve been advised to stay away from that and keep that personal. I’m focusing on football,” Watson said. “That’s my main focus is football and preparing to be the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns so I can execute the game plan to try to get a win this Sunday.”
Several backdrops to Deshaun Watson’s debut with the Cleveland Browns
Watson last suited up in a regular-season game back in January of 2021 when he was a member of the Houston Texans. Whether it’s the football gods working in mysterious ways or a lack of coincidence from schedule-makers, he’ll debut against that very same Texans squad in Houston on Sunday.
It’s also expected that multiple Watson accusers will be on hand in Houston as some sort of a protest.
As for the 4-7 Browns, what has been a lost season now regains some focus as the team will debut its new franchise quarterback. Cleveland exhausted a huge bounty to acquire him in a trade with Houston during the spring.
It then signed Watson to a record-breaking contract extension, placing the organization under the microscope once again.
There’s really no way to prepare for what we’re going to see on the field in Houston on Sunday. The Browns know that all-too well.
“I don’t think I can predict that type of thing. But I know this: he’s focusing on his work. Really, in any endeavor, you’ve got to focus on your preparation for Sunday. You can’t really worry about Sunday until you worry about Wednesday,” Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski on Deshaun Watson’s debut.
In a game between two teams who are not in playoff contention, the NFL world’s focus will shift to Houston. It’s going to be highly interesting to see what happens.
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Author: Vincent Frank