Tonight’s May episode of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel will include an interview with two of the women who claim they were sexually abused by the Cleveland Browns’ newly acquired quarterback Deshaun Watson. He sat out the whole 2021 season with the Houston Texans as a consequence of the alarming number of allegations.
Watson did not agree to be interviewed for the program, and in a pre-emptive strike, his attorney says their side figures on losing the public relations battle in this raging controversy.
“I don’t know what it’s going to be like, but I’m not optimistic,” Watson attorney Rusty Hardin told the Cleveland Plain Dealer said. “I believe they’ll air the accusations of the women without attempting to look behind it to see what kind of merit do they have.
“My approach all along was that we were not going to win the battle of public opinion. And my goal has always been to have these cases examined by law enforcement and I strongly believed that trained investigators would ultimately conclude that there was nothing to them from a criminal standpoint and that’s where my focus has always been.”
By the way, Hardin has represented some real losers in his legal career, including child-beater Adrian Peterson and steroid user Roger Clemens.
Real Sports’ Soledad O’Brien conducts the interviews with the accusers, their first national airing of grievances against Watson.
Tonight’s Real Sports broadcast and the public reaction to it “may wind up being quite significant to the NFL’s ultimate disciplinary decision with Watson,” commented Andrew Bucholtz, a blogger for Awful Announcing. The league has commissioned an investigation, which is ongoing. A grand jury declined to indict Watson, and the legal proceedings have moved to the civil courts.
The lawyer representing two of the women, Tony Buzbee, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer “the walls are closing in” on Watson. It’s possible the interviews with the plaintiffs could be disastrous for Watson and this could lead to an unprecedented NFL suspension.
“I can tell you, hard questions were in fact asked — not only to our clients but to me as well,” Buzbee said. “These women are the most brave and courageous I’ve ever met. This firm is extremely proud to represent them. During the filming process I was impressed with HBO’s diligence and insistence on fairness.”
Upon arriving in Cleveland after the Texans traded him to the Browns March 25, Watson declared his innocence.:
“I definitely I understand the whole circumstances can be very difficult, especially for the women’s side of the fans in this community. I’m not naive to that. I know these allegations is very, very serious. But like I mentioned before, I’ve never assaulted any woman. I never disrespected any woman. I was raised by a single-parent mom who has two Aunties, who’s a sister, and that’s who raised me.:
HBO said the women interviewed "detail the alleged abuse they suffered and share their reactions to" Watson’s contract with the Browns, a deal that will pay him a mega-salary of $230 million.
Watson met with NFL investigators for three days last week. He fully cooperated with the investigation.