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Deshaun Watson's Nike Endorsement Contract Suspended Amid Civil Lawsuits

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 7, 2021

Nike announced Wednesday that it has suspended its endorsement deal with Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson amid allegations that he engaged in sexual misconduct against multiple massage therapists.

The company told CNBC's Jabari Young: "We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and have suspended Deshaun Watson. We will continue to closely monitor the situation."

Watson is currently facing civil lawsuits filed by 22 different women. Watson and his attorney, Rusty Hardin, have denied the allegations.

On Tuesday, two of the women who filed lawsuits against Watson spoke publicly for the first time at a press conference.

According to ESPN's Sarah Barshop, Ashley Solis was the first woman to file a lawsuit on March 16, and she shared her story Tuesday:

"I got into massage therapy to heal people. To heal their minds and bodies. To bring peace to their souls. Deshaun Watson has robbed me of that. He took that away from me, he tainted a profession in which I take enormous pride. ... I suffer from panic attacks, anxiety and depression. I'm in counseling as a result of Deshaun Watson's actions. I hope he knows how much pain he's inflicted on me emotionally and physically. And I hope he knows how much pain he's inflicted on these other survivors.

"People say that I'm doing this just for money. That is false. I come forward now so that Deshaun Watson does not assault another woman."

The other woman who filed suit against Watson and released a statement Tuesday was Lauren Baxley, who wrote a letter to Watson that was read by her attorney.

In part, the letter said: "Every boundary from professional and therapeutic to sexual and degrading you crossed or attempted to cross."

Watson signed with Nike in 2017 shortly before he was selected by the Texans with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft out of Clemson.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported in January that Watson requested a trade from the Texans, due partly to his unhappiness over the team not consulting with him before hiring former New England Patriots executive Nick Caserio as general manager.

The Texans have yet to honor his request, but it remains unclear if he will ever play for the team again, and his future is clouded even further by the serious allegations against him.

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