Deshaun Watson- What we Know so far
Watson, Quarter Back for the Browns
Photo from AP News, 2022
TW: This article mentions details of sexual assault and harassment that some readers may find disturbing. Resources can be found at the bottom of the story.
The Trade & Contract-
On March 18, 2021 NFL Quarterback Deshan Watson, a former player on the Houston Texans, was traded to the Cleveland Browns.
Watson’s contract included the most guaranteed money offered to a player in NFL history, $230 million. In addition to this deal Watson also received a $45 million signing bonus.
However, the contract's yearly breakdown wasn’t equal. In the first year Watson’s base salary will be $1.035 million. From 2023-25 however, it will be $46 million. Each year Watson will also receive a $8.933 million signing bonus as well as $46 million in yearly cash (The Sporting News, 2022).
Prior to the trade Watson’s name was in the media more than usual as a result of assault allegations filed against him.
In March of 2021 the first claim was filed against Watson. On April 6, 2021 Ashley Solis sat with her lawyer and publicly accused Deshawn Watson of sexual harassment infront of KHOU 11, a Houston local news station.
With the allegations against him growing, the contract Watson received looks suspicious. However, the Browns have recently given similar contracts to veteran NFL players so there is no determined way of knowing if they did this intentionally.
Now, in September 2022, there are 24 lawsuits against Watson.
Out of those 24 claims, 22 of them filed under lewd & unwanted sexual behavior and the other two filed sexual assualt.
Watson’s attacks took place on masseuses he would hire. In a New York Times Investigation it was found that from the Fall of 2019 to the Spring of 2021 Watson hired 66 different massages.
The women who have publicly come forward all shared that Watson would reach out to them, most of the time over Instagram private messages, inquiring about their services. Despite some of the masseuses not specializing in what he said he was looking for, Watson continued to move forward and book with them.
Ashley Solis, a masseuse specializing in sports massages was reached out to by Watson. On March 30, 2020 Watson assaulted her in her own home. Solis came into the room to do the massage and found Watson naked, only covering his genital area with a small towel.
He was said to often do this and would bring his own small towel. Other reports from survivors said he sometimes would be fully naked or leave his genitals out of the sheets.
Growing up in Texas, Solis was raised as a Texas fan and her dad used to love Watson. “I think that’s the most heartbreaking aspect of it all, we were all deceived into thinking that Deshaun Watson was a good guy and unfortunately we know that good guys can do terrible things,” Solis said on April 6, 2021 in her first public statement since filing the charge.
Many women have anonymously come forward with their claims. One plaintiff was come onto by Watson several times during their massage appointment. When she told him she was a lesbian and uninterested Watson allegedly said “I can tell you’re a lesbian because you’re so good with your fingers.”
Watson proceeded to force her fingers up his buttox, going on to wrap his legs around her allegedly saying “pretend like I’m a woman” and forcing her to perform oral sex on him. Once the plaintiff was able to get free she said Watson ejaculated.
These are two of the 24 survivor’s stories.
Despite not being found guilty in court, the NFL has suspended Deshaun Watson from 11 games and fined him $5 million in addition to the money he won’t receive for those games.
If Watson’s contract had him earning the same amount all five years Watson would have lost roughly $28.11 million. However, with him receiving the $1.035 million as his base salary for 2022 he stands to lose $632,000.
There are ongoing debates about how long of a suspension and how large of a fine Watson should receive for his actions. Watson is not the only NFL player who has been involved in sexual assault allegations. In 2015 VICE reported that there were 44 NFL players who have been accused of sexual or physical assault.
Ahmad Brooks, a former outside linebacker for the San Fransisco 49ers, was accused of rape in 2015. He was charged with sexual battery in August of that year. The NFL had Brooks serve a 6 game suspension.
Richie Incognito, a former guard for the New York Buffalo Bills & Miami Dolphins, was accused of sexual battery with a golf club in May 2012. He was playing for the Dolphins in 2015 when he was found not guilty. The Dolphins fined Incognito $50,000 and released a statement saying the “conduct deemed detrimental to the organization.”
There are many more.
Because women like Solis spoke out, tens of hundreds of other women will likely be able to avoid Watson and the same fate. “I was afraid,” Solis said, pausing, “I’m not afraid anymore.”
If you or someone you love has been affected by sexual assault there are resources avalible.
For the National Sexual Assault Hotline call (1-800-656-4673) and visit rainn.org for 24/7 online chatting and alternate resources.
44 NFL Players Accused of Assault