Deshaun Watson is set to play a regular-season NFL game for the first time in nearly two years, with his new team visiting his old team. But in advance of Sunday’s matchup between the Cleveland Browns (4-7) and Houston Texans (1-9-1), Watson is not ready to discuss the circumstances that led to his extended absence.
The 27-year-old Browns quarterback refused to answer any questions that weren’t related to football on Thursday during his first media session since returning from his 11-game suspension, which was imposed by the NFL after accusations by more than 20 women of sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions.
“I understand that you guys have a lot of questions,” Watson said, while thanking Browns fans, teammates, coaches and ownership for their support in an opening statement, “but with my legal team and my political team, there’s only football questions that I can really address at this time.”
Despite Watson’s refusal to answer non-football questions, his lengthy time away from the game spawned a number of queries about just how quickly the three-time Pro Bowler will be able to return to form.
“We’ll have to see Sunday, honestly,” Watson said. “It might take time, it might not take time. I just want to go out there and do what I want to do, make plays as much as I possibly can.
“Two years is definitely a long time, but at the same time, I’ve been doing this since I was 6 years old. So just like riding a bike, I’m just going to go out there and just find the pedals, get my transition going, and then just let everything kind of come to me. Don’t press it, don’t try to make anything bigger than what it really is.”
The setting for Watson’s return — NRG Stadium — is obviously a familiar one for the former Texans star, who maintains a home in Houston. Selected by the Texans with the 12th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Watson guided Houston to back-to-back AFC South titles in 2018 and ’19, then led the NFL with 4,823 passing yards in 2020. But he requested a trade in January of 2021, with the initial civil complaints of sexual misconduct filed two months later.
On Thursday, Watson said he’s focused on the game, not his reception in Houston this weekend, although he’s uncertain how Texans fans will react.
“I’m not sure,” Watson said. “My main focus is locked in on the game plan, to try and execute and make sure I’m keeping the standard the standard for the Cleveland Browns, so we can try to win.”
Image & Story Credit: nfl.com