Deshaun Watson’s debut with the Browns was always going to have a sinister undertone to it. But attorney Tony Buzbee, who represented the women who accused Watson of sexually assaulting them, is making sure it’s as difficult as possible to ignore the subtext of Watson’s NFL return against the Texans Sunday.
Watson, who played the first four years of his career with the Texans, is coming off an 11-game suspension for conduct detrimental to the league after initially being suspended for six games and settling with the league.
His first game back will be in Houston, and Buzbee is reportedly renting a suite for the game and inviting the 25 women he has represented in civil suits against Watson as his guests. Buzbee told The Athletic around 10 have accepted.
“I will be there to welcome Deshaun back to Houston,” Buzbee said, per The Athletic.
He added the meaning behind the invites: “You think you put us behind you, but we are still here.”
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This will be Watson’s first NFL start since Jan. 3, 2021, after he missed all of last season following a trade request and the eventual allegations against him.
The Browns, of course, made waves by signing Watson to a fully guaranteed $230 million deal, a unicorn-esque contract. It is also a contract that was heavily backloaded, ostensibly to mitigate the effects of the suspension that was looming when it was signed.
The Browns, at 4-7, are looking to take an outside track to the playoffs that would likely have to involve them winning out. With four of their last six games being on the road, don’t expect a lot of hospitality down the stretch season.
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Whether this is a publicity stunt or a legitimate message will be in the eye of the beholder, but for his part Buzbee told The Athletic it’s a matter of taking the allegations seriously.
“I don’t take cases that aren’t serious,” he said.