Aug. 13—The next time we get to interview Deshaun Watson, assuming there is a next time in 2022, the first question I want to ask is, "Why now? Why wait until Aug. 12, 141 days after your first news conference as Browns quarterback, to finally apologize to the women accusing you of sexual misconduct?"
My second question would be, "Do you really think, or even hope, that saying, 'Sorry,' now is going to make your pending suspension lighter than it would be without the apology?"
WEWS sideline reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala interviewed Watson in the team hotel prior to the Browns playing the Jaguars in Jacksonville.
Kinkhabwala first asked Watson about playing his first game in 19 months. Watson started against the Jaguars a few hours later. He played three series and completed one of five passes.
"I'm super excited,'" Watson said. "I'm excited to get out there with my new teammates and compete each and every snap."
Kinkhabwala then asked Watson about part of the 16-page summary written by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson in which Robinson recommended the NFL should suspend Watson for six games for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. Robinson interviewed Watson in late June as part of the hearing process that led to her recommending the six-game ban. The retired federal judge also interviewed four of the 24 women that accused Watson of sexual misconduct.
"With respect to what the appropriate discipline should be," Robinson wrote in the summation released Aug. 1, "I note that there are aggravating factors applicable to Mr. Watson, that is, his lack of expressed remorse and his tardy notice to the NFL of the first-filed lawsuit."
Kinkhabwala, who previously worked for NFL Network and will be working for CBS Sports this season, then asked Watson about Robinson's decision. His answer sounded rehearsed. There was nothing spontaneous about the interview. Kinkhabwala and the WEWS cameraman didn't just happen to bump into Watson alone in the hotel.
"I have to ask you," she said to Watson. "The initial ruling from Judge Sue Robinson made a very specific point of saying your lack of remorse played into her decision making. It's been part of the narrative surrounding you. What is your response to that?"
Before typing his answer, let's go back to what Watson said the only two times we've been permitted to interview him since the Browns traded the Texans their first-round pick in 2022, 2023 and 2024 plus a 2022 fourth-round pick (pick 107), a third-round pick in 2023 and a fourth-round pick in 2024. The Browns also got a sixth-round pick in 2024 from Houston in the trade.
"I never did the things that these people are alleging," Watson said March 24. "What I can continue to do is tell the truth, and that is I have never assaulted, disrespected or harassed any woman in my life."
It should be noted here that Robinson wrote: "It is undisputed that Mr. Watson's conduct does not fall into the category of violent conduct."
Watson was asked March 24 if he would seek counseling.
"It's hard for me to say the counseling part, because I don't have a problem," Watson said. "I don't have an issue, and that's what I've been saying from the beginning."
Reporters covering the Browns interviewed Watson again June 14. The Browns have shielded him from beat reporters since.
His story that day was unchanged from what he said in March. The only real update was the revelation he had settled 20 of the 24 civil lawsuits filed by the massage therapists that had accused him of sexual misconduct. That number has grown to 23 settlements.
"Like I said, I never assaulted anyone. I never harassed anyone. I never disrespected anyone," Watson said June 14. "I never forced anyone to do anything."
Definitely no remorse from Watson.
So Robinson issues her recommendation. Two days later, Aug. 3, the NFL appealed the recommendation of a six-game suspension and asked again for a year-long ban. Aug. 4, Commissioner Roger Goodell appointed former New Jersey attorney general Peter C. Harvey to hear the appeal and render a decision that would be binding, according to the CBA. The ball is still in Harvey's court.
"I want to say I'm truly sorry to all the women I've impacted in this situation," Watson told Kinkhabwala on Aug. 12. "The decisions that I made in my life that put me in this position I would definitely like to have back, but I want to continue to move forward and grow and learn and show that I am a true person of character and I am going to keep pushing forward."
Kinkhabwala asked Watson how he has grown "on a personal level." This time, Watson revealed he is getting counseling — something he insisted March 24 he did not need.
"I know I have a lot of work to put in, especially on the field to make sure I'm ready to play, whenever that time comes, whenever I can step back on the field," Watson said. "But also, the biggest thing is I want to continue counseling and I want to make sure I'm growing as a person, as an individual from my decision making on and off the field. And I want to make sure I'm evolving in the community as much as possible. That's the Cleveland community, the NFL community and beyond."
His apology, even if it is sincere, is way, way too late.
I didn't know that
... until I read my Snapple bottle cap:
It requires around 200 muscles for a human to take a step. ... Ripening bananas glow an intense blue under a black light. ... A woodpecker can hammer wood 16 times per second. ... The first sport to be filmed was boxing in 1894. ... There are more tigers owned by Americans than in the wild worldwide. ... No rain fell in Iquique, Chile for 14 years.