Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has publicly addressed the women who accused him of sexual misconduct, telling Aditi Kinkhabwala of CBS Sports on Friday he is "truly sorry to all the women that I’ve impacted in this situation."
Watson started for the Browns against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday. It marked his first appearance in an NFL game since Jan. 3, 2021, when he was still with the Houston Texans.
Former federal judge Sue L. Robinson ruled Aug. 1 that Watson should be suspended for the first six games of the regular season.
In the ruling, Robinson wrote that one of the "aggravating factors" in her decision stemmed from Watson's "lack of expressed remorse" related to the allegations.
The NFL argued for an indefinite suspension of at least one year and built its case around four of Watson's accusers. The league spoke with 12 women who accused Watson of sexual misconduct.
Twenty-five women filed civil lawsuits against Watson, though one of them was dropped in April 2021. Twenty-three of the remaining 24 civil cases have been settled. It's unclear at this point if the lone remaining civil lawsuit will be settled.
In arriving at her decision, Robinson noted Watson's "pattern of conduct is more egregious than any before reviewed by the NFL."
Per the rules of the personal conduct policy, the NFL and NFL Players Association had three days to appeal Robinson's ruling. The league officially filed its appeal Aug. 3, with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell naming former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey as the official designee to rule on the appeal.
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio noted the NFL and Watson could still reach an agreement on a potential suspension settlement before Harvey makes a ruling on the appeal.
The Browns acquired Watson from the Texans in March. They signed him to a five-year, fully-guaranteed $230 million contract.