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Browns' Joel Bitonio on Fans Booing Deshaun Watson: 'Cleveland Against the World'

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVAugust 15, 2022

Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns expect a lot of boos on the road this season.

Guard Joel Bitonio discussed the crowd's reaction to the Browns and quarterback Deshaun Watson from Friday's road game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"You know, I think once Deshaun came out of the game we got booed less, but you go to a road game they boo you anyway, so you know what I mean?" Bitonio told reporters Sunday. "So we'll see how it goes. I'm sure, it seems like more than ever, Cleveland against the world, so we'll be ready for it."

Watson is eligible to play in preseason games, but he has been suspended by the NFL for six games after violating the league's personal conduct policy. He was accused of sexual assault or sexual misconduct by 25 women who filed civil lawsuits against him (though one lawsuit was later dropped due to privacy concerns).

All but one of those civil lawsuits have since been settled, and two grand juries have declined to indict Watson on criminal charges related to the accusations.

The NFL has appealed to seek a longer suspension, while Watson is willing to accept a settlement of an eight-game suspension and a $5 million fine, per Rob Maaddi and Tom Withers of the Associated Press.

When Watson is on the field, the Browns can expect an extra dose of vitriol from opposing fans.

As Bitonio indicated, the team is prepared for whatever comes its way this season.

The first-team All-Pro lineman is heading into his ninth NFL year and has seen a lot during his tenure. The 2017 team finished 0-16, while the 2020 squad won a playoff game behind Baker Mayfield.

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