For the first time in 19 months, Deshaun Watson will appear on an NFL football field Friday evening as his new team, the Cleveland Browns, take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in a preseason matchup.

Watson will have the rest of the preseason to prep for the season but he will be suspended for at least six games, which was the initial ruling by former federal judge Sue L. Robinson for his violation of the league’s personal conduct policy. However, the NFL is currently appealing that decision and is said to want a much longer suspension. Meanwhile, Watson has reportedly said he would accept an eight-game suspension if that helped close this chapter of the dark saga involving allegations from 24 different masseuses who claim sexual misconduct or sexual assault on his part.

Before Friday’s game, Watson was speaking with Aditi Kinkhabwala on the Browns Countdown pregame show when, for the first time, he seemed to admit that he was at fault for the allegations and that he was “truly sorry.”

“Your eligibility is still in question,” said Kinkhabwala. “And although this appeal is ongoing, I have to ask you: “The initial ruling from Judge Sue. Robinson made a very specific point of saying that your lack of remorse played into her decision-making. It’s been part of the narrative surrounding you. What is your response to that?”

“Look, I want to say that I’m truly sorry to all of the women that I have impacted in this situation,” said Watson. “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.”

There’s a lot of work going on this “apology,” from the fact that Watson refers to sexual assault allegations as “this situation” to the way that he says his decisions “put me in this position,” as if they’re separate from him. Technically it’s an apology but it’s a pretty flimsy one at that. The idea that Watson will be able to prove to anyone that he is a “true person of character,” whatever that means, seems impossible.

The whole thing was pretty scripted and controlled anyway, especially as we see the Browns shared the video themselves, clearly having signed off on it. It doesn’t really help that much as Watson sways back and forth and keeps breaking eye contact with Kinkhabwala. If the point was to show that he has remorse, it’s not the best sell job.

We’ll see how NFL fans react and we’ll await the news of his suspension appeal and how many games are potentially added to that tally.

[Cleveland Browns]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to sean@thecomeback.com.