Deshaun Watson apologises to 'all of the women that I have impacted'

·3-min read

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has apologized for the first time to the women who accused him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions.

Watson's immediate playing future in the NFL is in limbo after the NFL appealed a six-game ban handed by independent arbiter Sue L. Robinson last week for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

The league was seeking a minimum one-year suspension as well as a fine of at least $5million. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has appointed Peter C. Harvey to hear the appeal.

In the meantime, the Browns announced on Wednesday that Watson would play in Friday's preseason opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Ahead of Friday's game, Watson appeared in an in-house video where he spoke about the situation and apologized for his actions for the first time, having previously said he had "no regrets".

"I want to say that I'm truly sorry to all of the women that I have impacted in this situation," Watson said.

"The decisions that I made in my life that put me in this position, I would definitely like to have back.

"But I want to continue to move forward and grow and learn and show that I am a true person of character and I am going to keep pushing forward."

Watson had been facing 24 civil lawsuits filed by female message therapists alleging sexual misconduct between 2020 and 2021 during his time with the Texans.

The three-time Pro Bowler was not charged by two grand juries and has strenuously denied any wrongdoing. He settled 20 of the lawsuits in June, with a further three settlements reported at the start of August ahead of the verdict of his NFL hearing.

Friday's appearance marked Watson's in an NFL game of any kind since the 2020 season finale, dating back to January 3 2021.

The Houston Texans had held him out of all of their 2021 games while a criminal investigation into the allegations was conducted. He was traded to the Browns in March this year.

"Each and every snap, I want to make sure I cherish that because I'm not sure when the next time I'll be able to get out there with those guys," he said.

Watson added that he would work on personal growth during his probable time out of the game.

"I know I have a lot of work to put in, especially on the field to be able to make sure I'm ready to play whenever that time comes whenever I can step back on the field," he said.

"But also, the biggest thing is I want to continue counseling and I want to make sure that I'm growing as a person, as an individual for my decision-making on and off the field.

"I want to make sure that I'm just evolving in the community as much as possible, and that is for the Cleveland community, that is the NFL community and beyond."

The Browns won Friday's preseason game 24-13 over the Jaguars, with Watson completing one of five attempts for seven yards.