BEREA, Ohio — Shortly after the announcement that Deshaun Watson and the NFL had come to an 11-game, $5 million settlement, the quarterback maintained his innocence during a media briefing and said he’s focused on moving forward as a person and as a Cleveland Brown.
"I've always stood on my innocence and always said, I've never assaulted or disrespected anyone, and I'll continue to stand on that," Watson said at the beginning of the press conference.
Watch Watson speak to reporters during a news conference in Berea Thursday afternoon.
When reporters in the media scrum asked who he was directly apologizing to, Watson mentioned "everyone affected."
"To everyone that has been affected by this situation," he said. "There was a lot of people that was triggered. I've apologized to all women who have been affected by this whole situation."
Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam and General Manager Andrew Berry also spoke during the news conference, discussing the empathy they have for the women involved as well as plans to fund programs directly addressing some of the misconduct of which Watson has been accused.
"It was really important for the Cleveland Browns to honor the agreement between the Players Association, the NFL and no matter what the outcome is or was, to respect that," said Jimmy Haslam. "At the same time, I think we as an organization realize how sensitive this is, how emotional it is to all kinds of people, and how a lot of people have been affected by this situation."
Dee Haslam then stepped forward to the podium pledging $1 million towards youth education for sexual misconduct.
"I just want to say that we as an organization, and as individuals, we have tremendous empathy for the women involved," she said. "And we have an opportunity now to make a difference in this community. We're going to invest $1 million to go towards educating youth for awareness of sexual misconduct. So we're going to work really hard on prevention and we're looking forward to getting involved and getting started on that."
Watch their interviews with the news media in the two videos below.
Part 1: Browns ownership and management discuss Watson suspension
When the trade was originally made in the spring, Berry said that they felt good about Watson as a person and what they learned through the investigation.
The same feelings apply six months later.
"You know our process was thorough. We felt like we made an informed decision," Berry said. "Understanding why others may not have made the same decision that we did. But we do believe Deshaun has strong, positive qualities."
Part 2: Browns ownership and management discuss Watson suspension
Later Thursday afternoon, head coach Kevin Stefanski spoke to the press about the suspension and what the team looks like going forward with Jacoby Brissett as the starter.
Watson will not play in the preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
"Part of it is making sure that we get a lot of work for Jacoby, for Deshaun, because eventually he will be playing as we want to get a look at some of our scheme versus another scheme if you will," Stefanski said. "But ultimately, as we transition out of this week, Jacoby will get really all of the reps."
Stefanski reiterated the team mantra with Brissett taking over leadership roles with the quarterback position.
"This is a team," he said. "The guys have trust in each other and I know they have trust in Jacoby, but ultimately, this is the beam in the game there is."
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