NFL probe into Watson claims near completion: Goodell

Agence France-Presse

Posted at May 25 2022 09:09 AM

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson walks off the field after failing to get a first down against the Kansas City Chiefs in the second half of their AFC Divisional round playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, USA, 12 January 2020. Larry W. Smith, EPA-EFE
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson walks off the field after failing to get a first down against the Kansas City Chiefs in the second half of their AFC Divisional round playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, USA, 12 January 2020. Larry W. Smith, EPA-EFE

NEW YORK -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against DeShaun Watson was nearing completion but would not say when the Cleveland Browns quarterback may face possible disciplinary action.

US media reported on Monday that the NFL would make a decision on a potential suspension of Watson before the start of the 2022 season.

However Goodell reported on Monday that while the probe into claims against the Browns star was almost complete, no timeline for possible disciplinary action had been set.

"I can't give you a timeline," Goodell said. "I think we're nearing the end of the investigative period and this will be handled by our disciplinary officer.

"Hopefully this will happen shortly and we'll see where it comes out."

More than 20 women have accused Watson of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior during massages he paid for while he was a player with the Houston Texans.

While prosecutors in Texas have said he will not face criminal prosecution over the slew of allegations, Watson does still face the the threat of civil legal action, in addition to punishment by the NFL.

The 26-year-old -- one of the most talented quarterbacks in the NFL -- missed the entirety of the 2021 season with the Texans following the allegations. He denies any wrongdoing.

In March, Watson joined the Browns in a shock trade that will see him get paid $230 million in guaranteed salary. 

The Browns later defended the trade -- described by one critic as a "repugnant black eye for the NFL" -- by saying that the team carried out an exhaustive evaluation of allegations against Watson.

But in an interview with the HBO program "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" due to be screened in the US on Tuesday, two of Watson's accusers said the Browns had rewarded Watson for bad behavior.

"It's just like a big screw you," one of the women, Ashley Solis, said of the Browns' decision to hire Watson. 

"That's what it feels like. That we don't care. He can run and throw, and that's what we care about."

Another of Watson's accusers, Kyla Hayes, described the Cleveland trade as "sick...I felt like he's being rewarded for bad behavior."

© Agence France-Presse