A New York Times report on June 7 detailed that Watson met with at least 66 different massage therapists over a 17-month period between 2019-21. The Times published explicit first-hand accusations of sexual impropriety ranging from harassment to assault, noting further that a 23rd civil suit had been filed and that a 24th was on the way. The latter suit became official on Wednesday, one day after the Times published its article.
Two Texas grand juries have already cleared Watson of criminal charges in 10 of the incidents, also per the New York Times. However, the new civil suits could potentially represent more legal trouble for Watson, and by extension the Browns, down the line.
The development set off a wave of strong reactions, including from prominent members of the sports media like Sal Iacano, who took out Watson, the Browns organization and the Houston District Attorney’s Office in light of the Times’ report.
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Sports World Reacts to New Allegations Against Browns QB Watson
Known popularly by the moniker Cousin Sal in his capacity as co-host of Fox Bet Live on FS1, creator of The Extra Points Podcast Network and long-time contributor to Jimmy Kimmel Live! — Iacano took to Twitter on Tuesday, where he ripped all three entities in one fell swoop.
“What a surprise that the dirtbag who lied about his intentions [and] actions during various massages also lied when asked if there were any other women who might potentially come forward with subsequent accusations,” Iacano wrote. “The Cleveland Browns [and] the Houston DA’s office are a disgrace.”
Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing the 24 women in their civil actions against Watson, confirmed Wednesday that he would be naming the Houston Texans as co-defendants in those cases due to the team’s alleged involvement helping the quarterback book massage appointments and draft non-disclosure agreements for the therapists to sign, per Pro Football Talk.
Browns Stand Firm on Commitment to Watson, $230 Million Contract
The news of new accusers in Watson’s ongoing saga sparked public debate over whether the Browns organization might try and void the trade that brought Watson to Cleveland from Houston, which would in turn void Watson’s historic contract. The Browns added Watson to their roster in March to replace four-year starting quarterback Baker Mayfield.
The team confirmed Friday it will stand behind Watson and the fully guaranteed contract he signed that will pay the quarterback $230 million over the next five years, per Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
So far, nothing has transpired since he signed the deal in March that has caused the Browns to change their view of Watson or contemplate trying to get out of the contract — not even the 24th suit filed Wednesday.
Likewise, sources say nothing has taken place that has the Browns trying to void the blockbuster trade with the Texans — which included sending three first-round draft picks and three other picks to the Texans in exchange for Watson and a sixth-rounder — even though the Texans will be soon be added to the suits as a defendant for allegedly enabling Watson’s misconduct.
Watson faced no suspension nor paid any fines in 2021. Rather, the Texans made a team decision not to play him even one regular season snap.
Last year was the quarterback’s fifth in the NFL. He spent the previous four campaigns in Houston and was named to the Pro Bowl in each of the last three seasons in which he played.