‘Of course’ Deshaun Watson got second chance


Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam believes in second chances, especially when it comes to his star quarterback in Deshaun Watson.

In a press conference at the team’s facility on Thursday — following the disciplinary ruling of Watson’s 11-game suspension and $5 million fine — Haslam defended the Browns’ decision to trade for the quarterback, saying they’d “absolutely” make the same decision today.

“I think in this country and hopefully in the world, people deserve second chances, OK. I really think that,” Haslam said. “I struggle a little bit. Is he never supposed to play again? Is he never supposed to be a part of society? Does he get no chance to rehabilitate himself? That’s what we’re gonna do, OK.

“You can say that’s because he’s a star quarterback. Well, of course,” Haslam said with a slight chuckle. “But if he was Joe Smith he wouldn’t be [in] the headlines every day. We think people deserve a second chance. We gave Kareem Hunt a second chance and that’s worked out pretty well.”

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam
Browns owner Jimmy Haslam

Haslam was referring to the Browns signing Hunt in 2019 after a domestic violence incident that took place a year prior at a Cleveland-area hotel while the running back was a member of the Chiefs.

At the time, video footage published by TMZ showed Hunt shoving and kicking a woman, which led to Kansas City releasing him. Cleveland Police confirmed to NFL.com that no arrests were made in the incident and Hunt wasn’t charged.

Hunt — who was the NFL’s leading rusher as a rookie in 2017 — later signed with the Browns in 2019, and served an eight-game suspension to start that season.

Watson, meanwhile, has not played since the 2020 season. The quarterback was traded from the Texans to the Browns in March, when Cleveland signed Watson to a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract. 

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson throws during practice on Sunday.
Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson throws during practice on Sunday.

Last week, Watson received a six-game suspension after a decision by retired U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson — the disciplinary officer jointly appointed by the NFL and players’ union to determine whether Watson violated the league’s personal conduct policy following accusations of sexual misconduct by two dozen massage therapists. 

The NFL appealed Robinson’s decision two days later, and appointed Peter C. Harvey, a former New Jersey Attorney General, to handle the league’s appeal of Robinson’s decision.


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