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Deshaun Watson Plays in First NFL Game Since 2020 Season

Embattled Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson played in his first game since the 2020 season Friday night.

Watson, who is awaiting news of the NFL’s appeal of his six-game suspension for sexual misconduct, played three series in the first quarter of Cleveland’s preseason opener at Jacksonville. He completed one of five passes for seven yards against the Jaguars and was roundly booed by spectators at TIAA Bank Field.

It was the first game as a member of the Browns for Watson, who sat out the entire 2021 season with Houston while under investigation for allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Prior to Friday’s game, Watson apologized publicly for the first time regarding his alleged sexual misconduct during an interview on the Browns’ pregame show.

“Look, I want to say that I’m truly sorry to all of the women that I have impacted in this situation,” Watson said during the interview. “The decisions that I made in my life that put me in this position I would definitely like to have back. But I want to continue to move forward and grow and learn and show that I am a true person of character and I am going to keep pushing forward.”

His appearance on the field Friday occurred amid a backdrop of uncertainty regarding his availability. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has appealed the six-game suspension that was handed down Aug. 1 with the goal of keeping Watson sidelined for at least a year due to behavior that Goodell called “egregious” and “predatory.”

The Associated Press reported Thursday that Watson would be willing to serve an eight-game suspension and pay a $5 million fine.

More than two dozen women have provided detailed graphic accounts of sexual misconduct by Watson during massage therapy sessions. At one point, 25 women had filed lawsuits against Watson regarding his behavior during massage sessions. He has reached undisclosed settlements in 24 of the suits.

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