SUSPENSION LOOMING?

Important takeaways from Deshaun Watson's accusers appearing on Real Sports

Important takeaways from Deshaun Watson's accusers appearing on Real Sports
Watson's accusers appeared on Real Sports on Tuesday night. Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images.
Deshaun Watson was grilled by Cleveland media at Browns introductory press conference

HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel’s heavily promoted and much anticipated examination of Deshaun Watson’s legal mess involving alleged sexual misconduct shed little new light and merely presented a summary of well worn he said/she (x22) said accusations and denials.

The episode debuted Tuesday night on the premium cable service and will be repeated dozens of times throughout the week on HBO’s platforms. Check your local listings for times and channel.

The segment was hosted by Soledad O’Brien who presented compelling face-to-face interviews with two of the quarterback’s accusers: massage therapists Ashley Solis and Kyla Hayes. Their stories were detailed and graphic. Both cried during the interviews.

Solis: “As I’m working, he deliberately grabs himself and put his penis on my hand. I pulled my hand away instantly and I started crying. I told that I’m done. I don’t want to do this anymore.”

Solis said she felt threatened when Watson, before leaving the session, allegedly told her: “I know you have a career to protect, and I know that you don’t want anyone messing with it, just like I don’t want anyone messing with mine.”

Solis added, “That’s when I got really scared because that sounded like a threat to me.”

Hayes: “He wanted me to kind of make a V motion in his pelvic area. I just kept massaging and did what he asked, until his penis kept touching me repeatedly as I did it.”

Hayes said that Watson had an orgasm, which she said was “mortifying, embarrassing and disgusting.”

O’Brien asked Hayes why she continued to have contact via email with Watson after their encounter.

Hayes: "I wasn't sure what he was capable of. He could've physically assaulted me. He could've bashed my business, so I had to protect myself and my business the best way I saw fit. Did I ever see him again after that? No. Did I give him the runaround? Yes."

O’Brien pointed out that two separate grand juries in Texas heard criminal accusations against Watson and neither found enough evidence to indict him.

Solis and Hayes, and 20 other massage therapists have filed civil suits against Watson. The cases aren’t expected to reach a courtroom until next March. Both sides could reach a settlement before then which would effectively shut down any legal action against Watson. However, both sides say they aren’t interested in any pretrial settlements. That’s what they say now, anyway.

After being banished to the sidelines for the 2021 season by the Houston Texans, Watson signed a historic, 5-year fully guaranteed $230 million contract with the Cleveland Browns.

Hayes said she feels Watson “is being rewarded for bad behavior." Solis said, "It's just like a big screw you. That's what it feels like. That we (the Browns) don't care. He can run and throw, and that's what we care about.”

Watson currently is participating in preseason workouts with the Browns and, at the moment, is cleared to play the upcoming NFL season.

That is unless the NFL suspends Watson for some, most or all of the 2022 season. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said the league is nearing completion of its independent investigation into Watson’s case and will reach a decision “shortly,” probably this summer. The NFL and NFL Players Association mutually agreed to have former U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson decide whether or not Watson violated the league’s Personal Conduct Policy and what discipline should be handed down if he did.

The Browns are scheduled to play the Texans on Dec. 4 at NRG Stadium in Houston.

O’Brien said, while producing the Real Sports piece, she tried to interview Watson, his attorneys and the Cleveland Browns for their side of the story. All declined.

During a press conference in March to announce his joining the Browns, Watson denied any inappropriate behavior with the massage therapists.

Watson: “I never assaulted any woman. I’ve never disrespected any woman. I was raised to be genuine and respect everyone around me. I’ve never done the thing that these people are alleging. My mom and my aunties didn’t raise me that way.”

Leah Graham, a member of Watson’s legal team, sat for an interview after O’Brien’s segment was complete.

Graham: "It's 22 women. It's one lawyer. There's only one lawyer who was willing to take these cases. And as we know from Ashley Solis’ deposition, Mr. (Houston attorney Tony) Buzbee was not the first, probably not the second or third lawyer she went to, but he was the only one to take her case. Why? Not because it had merit, but because he would use these cases to increase his social media following and quite frankly to get on shows like this one.”

My reaction after watching the Real Sports segment? We weren’t in the room when the massage therapists worked on Watson. We weren’t in the grand jury room when evidence against Watson was presented. We don’t know what happened. We don’t know what will happen if these cases go to trial.

Until then all we have is one big, lurid, embarrassing mess. In American courtrooms, defendants are presumed innocent. That’s often the opposite in the court of public opinion. We’ll just have to wait while the wheels of justice grind painfully slow.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Duran leads the AL to victory! Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Speedy Jarren Duran describes himself as a player who keeps his head down, works hard and never thinks of himself as being better than anybody else.

Duran turned some heads in his first All-Star Game, hitting a tiebreaking two-run homer for the American League and being awarded the MVP trophy named after Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams.

“That's an honor. Who else would I want to try to follow in the footsteps of besides a guy like that, who is not just a great baseball player but a great human being,” Duran said after becoming the fifth Red Sox player selected All-Star Game MVP. “That guy was awesome, and I’m honored to be able to have his award.”

The decisive homer came in the fifth inning Tuesday night as the AL beat the National League 5-3 for its 10th win in the past 11 All-Star Games.

Pittsburgh rookie Paul Skenes pitched a hitless first for the NL, twice hitting 100 mph, and Shohei Ohtani also went deep in Texas with a three-run homer for a 3-0 lead in the third.

Juan Soto hit a two-run double and scored on David Fry’s single to tie the score in the AL third, and Duran went deep off Cincinnati’s Hunter Greene.

“It’s a surreal moment. So I’m just thankful to be here,” said Duran, who was one of 39 first-time All-Stars this year.

Oakland right-hander Mason Miller got the win after throwing a 103.6 mph pitch, the fastest in the All-Star Game since tracking began in 2008. Hard-throwing Cleveland closer Emmanuel Clase struck out two in the ninth for the save.

The 22-year-old Skenes, who has pitched only 11 big league games since being the No. 1 overall pick in the draft last July, became the first rookie starter since 1995 and had the fewest games played for any player to make an All-Star team. The right-hander threw a hitless first, with a two-out walk to Soto before his Yankees teammate Aaron Judge grounded into a forceout on the next pitch.

Skenes threw 11 of 16 pitches for strikes, with seven fastballs up to 100.1 mph.

“Frankly, I wish I’d had a few more pitches to do that today,” said Skenes, who has a good mix of pitches to go with the hard stuff. “It’s cool to bring eyes to the game.”

Ohtani, who has gone deep 29 times in the first season of his record $700 million, 10-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, pulled a 400-foot drive to right off Tanner Houck. That came after the Boston right-hander allowed singles to the first two batters he faced: No. 9 batter Jurickson Profar and leadoff hitter Ketel Marte.

“I haven’t really hit well in the All-Star Game, so I’m just relieved that I put the ball in play,” Ohtani said. “I just focused on having a regular at-bat as if I was in the regular season.”

When Ohtani went against Miller in the fifth, he struck out on an 89.2 mph slider well inside and out of the strike zone. That was after twice taking strikes on fastballs of more than 100 mph.

Ohtani’s first All-Star homer made him the first Dodgers player to go deep in the Midsummer Classic since Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza in 1996. Eleven days after his 30th birthday, Ohtani was an All-Star for the fourth time — his first with the NL.

Baltimore’s Anthony Santander, after taking over for Soto in right field, had a two-out single in the fifth before Duran’s 413-foot homer to right-center after he had replaced Judge in center. Duran took a 95.9 mph fastball before going deep on an 86 mph splitter.

“I knew he threw really hard so I was just praying he would throw me a first pitch fastball so I could see how hard it was. After that, I was hoping to get a pitch up,” Duran said. “He happened to leave a pitch up. I happened to put a good swing on it.”

The last Red Sox player to be the All-Star MVP was J.D. Drew in 2008, following Pedro Martinez in 1999, Roger Clemens in 1986 and Carl Yastrzemski in 1970.

Duran was voted by his peers as an All-Star after being the first AL player to go into the break with at least 100 hits, 10 triples, 10 homers and 20 stolen bases.

The AL has a 48-44-2 record in the All-Star Game, and had won nine in a row before the National League's 3-2 victory last year in Seattle.

AL starter Corbin Burnes arrived in Texas the morning of the game after spending time at home with his newborn twin daughters. The Baltimore right-hander allowed a walk and then a two-out double to Bryce Harper before getting out of his inning on a comebacker by William Contreras, his catcher last season in Milwaukee.

After his underhand toss of the ball to first base, Burnes had a big smile on his face when he kept jogging and wrapped his arm around Contreras on the baseline.

Quick game

Played in 2 hours, 28 minutes, it was the shortest All-Star Game since 1988, a game that the AL won 2-1 in Cincinnati that took only two minutes less.

Won in both leagues

Bruce Bochy of the host Rangers became the first manager to win World Series titles and All-Star Games in both leagues. Bochy is now 2-3 as an All-Star manager, leading the NL to a win in 2011. He won the World Series three times with the NL's San Francisco Giants in 2010, 2012 and 2014, then led the Rangers to their first championship in his debut season with them last year.

Up next

The MLB regular series resumes Friday when 14 games are scheduled, with Milwaukee and Minnesota the only teams that won’t play until Saturday. Philadelphia (62-34) has the best record in the majors and Cleveland (58-37) has an AL-best .611 winning percentage, though Baltimore and the New York Yankees also have 58 wins.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome