CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns' acquisition of Deshaun Watson has led to a mixed reaction among the team's fanbase, due to the allegations of sexual misconduct that 22 women have made against the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback.
Taking to Twitter on Friday, Andrea Thome, the wife of Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame first baseman Jim Thome, made it clear where she stood on the matter, announcing that her family had cancelled its Browns season tickets.
"Officially cancelled our Browns season tickets today and asked for a refund as they were paid in full," Thome tweeted. "Very sad after 40 years as a fan, but this is my line in the sand. I believe women. Especially when there are 22 of them. That press conference did nothing to change my mind.
"They may not give us a refund. But I sent the letter today. If @Browns won’t refund—-I will auction off every single game and publicly donate every cent to different women’s crisis charities in N.E. Ohio, raising awareness week by week during the season."
Thome's tweets came on the same day that the Browns held a press conference to introduce Watson, who maintained his innocence on multiple occasions.
"I never assaulted, I never disrespected and I never harassed any woman in my life," he said. "I wasn't raised that way. My mom and my aunties didn't raise me that way over the course of my life. That's not in my DNA. As far as the details of the things that they're alleging, I can't speak on that because there's an ongoing investigation. But in the future, once everything's resolved, I would sit down and love to talk about it."
Last Thursday, a grand jury in Brazoria County, Texas, declined to indict Watson on sexual misconduct charges. Earlier this month, a grand jury in Harris County, Texas, declined to pursue nine charges against Watson in connection to the allegations.
But while Watson has not been criminally charged, he still faces civil lawsuits and potential punishment from the NFL. Asked about blowback from fans on Friday, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said that the team has seen more season ticket renewals than cancellations, while his wife and the team's co-owner, Dee Haslam, added that the team respects the decisions of its fans.
“We do respect individuals that have strong feelings," Dee said. "We understand those feelings.”
Added Thome on Saturday: "A final word. I never called anyone guilty. 22 accusers. That’s enough for me to make a decision that I have every right to make without being incessantly bullied by keyboard warriors. I’m stepping away for a week, but I wish you all peace. Grateful for all of the support."