Nike suspends Deshaun Watson endorsement deal due to sexual assault allegations

Sports

FILE – In this Jan. 3, 2021, file photo, Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson walks off the field before the team’s NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans in Houston. Watson, who is accused of sexual assault and harassment in lawsuits filed by 21 women, is being investigated by police after a report was filed regarding the NFL player, officials said Friday, April 2. In a tweet Friday, the Houston Police Department said a complainant had filed a report with the agency about Watson. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith, File)

TYLER, Texas (KETK/AP) – Nike has suspended their endorsement deal with Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, the latest development after he has been accused of sexual assault or misconduct with more than 20 women.

“We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and have suspended Deshaun Watson. We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

Statement from Nike

Last week, the Houston Police Department announced that it had opened a criminal investigation into Watson after 22 women filed lawsuits against him.

Ashley Solis, the first woman to accuse him of assault spoke publicly for the first time on Tuesday in a press conference, alleging she was terrorized by her encounter with the NFL player and that he needs to be held accountable for his actions.

Solid claimed that she was assaulted and traumatized during a massage for Watson in March of 2020 (KETK normally does not name potential victims of assault, unless they choose to publicly identify themselves).

Solis’ description of her encounter with Watson mirrors the accusations made by the other women in their lawsuits. They accuse Watson of exposing himself, touching them inappropriately, or kissing them against their will while he got a massage.

“I come forward now so that Deshaun Watson does not assault another woman… I am seeking justice not just on behalf of myself but for all survivors… This is about having my voice heard.”

Ashley Solis

Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, has called the allegations “meritless” and questioned the claims against Watson, alleging they were made following a failed attempt to blackmail his client for $30,000.

In a recent email to season ticket holders, Houston Texans chairman Cal McNair, whose family owns the team, said they were aware of the lawsuits against Watson and that the team takes “these allegations very seriously.”

“While we await the conclusion of these investigations, we express our strong stance against any form of sexual assault. Our family and the entire Houston Texans organization are deeply troubled by any form of abuse and we condemn this type of behavior,” McNair said.

The NFL has said it’s investigating the allegations against Watson.

Watson is one of the league’s top quarterbacks and led the NFL in yards passing last season. He signed a four-year, $156 million contract extension with the Texans last offseason, but he became unhappy with the direction of the team as Houston sunk to 4-12. Watson requested a trade in January.

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THE NFL DRAFT
April 29 2021 07:00 pm

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