Watson was acquired by Cleveland from Houston last week and the 26-year-old quarterback was promptly handed a guaranteed contract worth $230 million, despite having open allegations of sexual assault and harassment from 22 women.
Furthering the outrage, Cleveland constructed the contract to include a $1 million base salary in Watson’s first year, which protects him from taking a financial hit should he be suspended by the NFL over the sexual assault allegations. During the press conference, Browns executive Andrew Berry claimed the unique contract was just a business decision, and not a mode of financial protection for Watson.
Deshaun Watson doesn’t think 40 masseuses is a lot… pic.twitter.com/tDfwdmYnNk
— Brandon Contes (@BrandonContes) March 25, 2022
Watson began the presser by thanking Browns ownership Dee and Jimmy Haslam. The quarterback later claimed to understand the seriousness of the allegations against him, but professed his innocence, stating “I never assaulted any woman.”
Asked if he would be willing to undergo counseling to make sure nothing like this ever happens again, Watson pushed back.
“It’s hard for me to say the counseling part because I don’t have a problem, I don’t have an issue,” Watson said. “I’m willing to talk to people about certain situations to make sure I’m not getting back in this, but like I said before, I’ve never assaulted anyone, I’ve never disrespected anyone. I’ve always been respectful and that’s who I am as a person.”
The allegations against Watson include claims that he engaged in sexual misconduct with women during massage appointments, having seen 40 different masseuses during his time in Houston. Watson claimed 40 masseuses is not an over the top number.
“As businesses work and you move and meet different people and people have different schedules, you kind of meet people over time,” Watson argued.
Prior to acquiring Watson, the Browns did not meet with any of his accusers or their lawyer.