BEREA, Ohio — Quarterback Deshaun Watson returned to the Cleveland Browns training facility on Monday.
Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy by committing sexual assaults against massage therapists, as defined by the NFL. He is serving an 11-game suspension but can now participate in team meetings, individual meetings with the coaches and train at the team’s facility.
“We’ll see what we can do with him in the near future,” said Browns coach Kevin Stefanski, who spoke to Watson earlier Monday morning. “He’s in the conference rooms with our guys. … That’s great for him and for us to have him back with his teammates.”
Watson won’t be able to train with the team until November 14. He will not be eligible to play again until Week 13, when the Browns travel to his former team, the Houston Texans, on December 4.
As of August 30, Watson has not been allowed to interact with Browns coaches or enter the practice facility. He is training alone with his personal quarterback coach, Quincy Avery.
“He’s in a good place,” Stefanski said. “I think he worked very hard, was in [Cleveland], working locally, making sure he stayed on top of it physically. So now he needs to catch up a bit in the conference room.”
On August 18, the NFL and NFL Players Association settled an 11-game ban for Watson after he was accused by more than two dozen women of assault and inappropriate sexual misconduct during massage sessions. Watson was also fined $5 million and placed on a mandatory treatment program.
In the summer, Watson agreed to settle 23 of 24 lawsuits against him. Two other women filed criminal charges against Watson, but did not charge him.
Two Texas grand juries declined to file criminal charges against Watson earlier this year. But Sue L. Robinson, an independent arbitrator appointed jointly by the league and the players’ union, found that “the NFL bore its burden to prove, through a preponderance of the evidence, that Mr. Watson was involved in sexual assault.” Robinson also concluded in her report that Watson’s behavior was both “outrageous” and “predatory.”
Watson has repeatedly denied doing anything wrong, saying people weren’t interested in hearing his side of the story.
“I maintain my innocence just because, you know, settlements and stuff like that don’t mean anyone is guilty of anything,” he said on August 18 after the settlement agreement. “I feel like a person has a chance to insist on their innocence and prove that, and we’ve proved that from a legal side, and we’re just going to carry on as individuals and as individuals.”
The Browns traded for Watson in March, giving the Texans three first-round draft picks. Cleveland also gave Watson a new five-year deal worth $230 million guaranteed, the richest contract in NFL history.
Cleveland (2-3) will face the New England Patriots on Sunday.
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