Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson spoke to reporters on Thursday for the first time since returning from his 11-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
Watson was quick to express his excitement to return to the field and his appreciation for his teammates and the Browns organization as well as the fans in Cleveland.
“I understand that you guys have a lot of questions, but with my legal team and my clinical team, there’s only football questions that I can really address at this time,” Watson said.
Watson, 27, was suspended and fined $5 million in August for off-field conduct violations related to “predatory” behavior involving more than two dozen women who alleged sexual assault and other inappropriate behavior during massage sessions.
On Thursday, Watson deflected several questions that dealt with matters off the field. His primary focus, he said, was his on-field return on Sunday against the Houston Texans, the team that selected him with the top overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and ultimately traded him to the Browns last March.
He declined to address whether he had learned anything from the league-mandated counseling that accompanied his suspension.
“That’s more in that phase of clinical and legal stuff,” Watson said. “I’ve been advised to stay away from that and keep that personal. … I’m focusing on football. That’s my main focus is football and preparing to be the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns so I can execute the game plan to try to get a win this Sunday.”
The Browns (4-7) are 1-4 on the road heading into Sunday’s game against the Texans (1-9-1).
A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Watson has not played in a game since Jan. 3, 2021.
Watson completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 14,539 yards and 104 touchdowns with 36 interceptions in four seasons with Houston. He led the league with 4,823 passing yards in 2020. He also has rushed for 1,677 yards and 17 scores in his career, and he owns a 28-25 regular-season record as a starter.
–Field Level Media