Browns QB Deshaun Watson won’t answer non-football questions

Speaking to the media for the first time since Aug. 18, Watson declined to discuss his suspension or the reasons behind it. He has been accused by more than two dozen women of sexual harassment and assault during massage therapy sessions.

SHARE Browns QB Deshaun Watson won’t answer non-football questions
 Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson looks to pass during practice on Wednesday.

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson looks to pass during practice on Wednesday.

David Richard/AP

BEREA, Ohio — Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson refused to address non-football questions on Thursday in his first comments since returning from an 11-game NFL suspension over sexual misconduct allegations.

Speaking to the media for the first time since Aug. 18, Watson declined to discuss his suspension or the reasons behind it. He has been accused by more than two dozen women of sexual harassment and assault during massage therapy sessions.

The 27-year-old will play his first game for the Browns on Sunday in Houston, where he starred for four seasons with the Texans and where the alleged misconduct took place.

Watson opened with a statement, saying he was advised by his legal and clinical teams to only address “football questions.”

“I’m focusing on football,” he said. “My main focus is locked in on the game plan and trying to execute and make sure that I’m keeping the standard up for the Cleveland Browns so we can try to win.”

Watson agreed to the lengthy suspension, a $5 million fine and to undergo professional counseling and therapy after an independent arbitrator ruled that he violated the league’s personal conduct policy.

He wouldn’t say what he learned during his time away or if the counseling helped him.

“I respect your question,” Watson said inside Cleveland’s indoor field house. “I understand. But that’s more in that phase of clinical and legal stuff and I’ve been advised to stay away from that and keep that personal.”

Watson’s return to the field will be his first game in 700 days. In addition to facing former teammates and fans who cheered for him, some of the women who sued him over the allegations are expected to attend the game, according to their attorney.

“I’m excited,” Watson said. “I’m excited to just play football in general in front of Cleveland Browns fans, but also in front of some of the Houston Texans fans. I respect the whole organization of the Houston Texans. I respect the McNair family. I respect everyone that was there that drafted me in 2017. There’s been great memories, fun memories.”

“I have so much love for the city of Houston and H Town.”

Watson’s suspension started Aug. 30. He was banned from the team’s facility and returned Oct. 10, when he was allowed to attend meetings and work out. The three-time Pro Bowler returned to practice on Nov. 16.

Watson settled with 23 of the women who sued him over the allegations. Two lawsuits remaining pending.

He has always maintained he didn’t harass or force himself on any women. Two grand juries in Texas declined to indict him over the allegations.

The Latest
The 25-year-old catcher, who has outperformed Martin Maldinado in every aspect this season, could see his playing time accelerate as the season goes on.
The Bears are hoping teams trade up to take quarterbacks, improving their options with the No. 9 pick.
Asked before Sunday’s series finale against the Marlins if Alzolay is his closer, Cubs manager Craig Counsell said, “I don’t think today he would be.”
British conductor, who led nearly 700 Lyric performances of 62 operas, died in Chicago from leukemia.
Happ probably could have started Sunday’s series finale with the Marlins. The risk, however, wasn’t worth the reward.