Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson got a preview Friday of what road games will be like when he resumes his NFL career full time.
Watson was given a six-game suspension earlier this month by an independent judge following allegations of sexual misconduct involving more than two dozen women. The NFL wants a longer suspension and filed an appeal, with the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, saying the quarterback had shown “egregious” and “predatory behavior.”
Watson is still available for preseason games and made his debut for the Browns on Friday night against the Jaguars in Jacksonville. Fans chanted “no means no” and “sick fuck” at the 26-year-old. He struggled during his brief appearance, completing only one in five passes for seven yards in his first game since January 2021, when he was with the Houston Texans.
Watson denied any wrongdoing and grand juries declined to indict him on criminal charges. He has so far settled with 23 of the women who brought lawsuits against him. The Browns did not make him available to the media after Friday’s games, but Watson earlier issued an apology to the women involved in the allegations.
“Look, I mean, I’m really sorry to all the women that I affected in this situation,” Watson said in his pregame interview. “The decisions that I’ve made in my life that put me in this position, I definitely wish I could have it back, but I want to keep moving forward and growing and learning and showing that I’m a true character and I’m going to. keep pushing forward.”
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski admitted his quarterback looked nervous during the game.
“I think he probably wants some throws back,” Stefanski said. “Obviously playing football for the first time in a while, I thought it was important for him to come out with his teammates in this scheme. I’m sure he had the butterflies and the nerves early on. But I think he understands what he works.”
The NFL is understood to seek a one-year suspension for Watson. He is considered one of the best young quarterbacks in the league. The Browns traded for him earlier this year after he sat out the 2021 season due to his legal issues and a feud with his former team, the Texans.
The NFL regular season begins on September 8. If Watson serves a six-game suspension he would return against the Browns’ divisional rivals, the Ravens, in Baltimore where he would face a significantly more hostile crowd than in Jacksonville.