BEREA, Ohio — Speaking to reporters for the first time in three months on Thursday, Deshaun Watson opted to stick to football.
The Cleveland Browns quarterback, however, may not have the same luxury this Sunday.
In what will mark his first start in nearly two years -- and since being traded to Cleveland this past March -- Watson will return to Houston to face the team he spent the first five seasons of career with, the Texans. That also happens the be the city where he has been accused of sexual misconduct, including harassment and assault, by several women, 10 of whom plan on being at Sunday's game along with their attorney, Tony Buzbee.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the end of the 11-game suspension that came as a result of an NFL investigation into the allegations, Watson -- who has not been criminally charged -- insisted on only answering football-related questions. Asked about his first start since Jan. 3, 2021 coming in the same city his has so much history with, the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback opted to focus on the positive.
"I'm excited. I'm just excited to play football in general. In front of Cleveland Browns fans, but also in front of some of the Houston Texans fans," said Watson, who has reached settlements with 23 accusers as a result of the allegations with two lawsuits still ongoing.
"I respect the whole organization of the Houston Texans. I respect the McNair family. I respect everyone that was there that drafted me in 2017. It's been great memories, fun memories. I still have a home in Houston. I still have friends and family that's still in Houston, relationships that are still there. People -- some of the players on the team I played with and have seen come up through practice squad or injuries. So I'm excited to get in front of those fans. I have so much love for the city of Houston, H-town. And everyone in that city pretty much knows that. So I'm excited to do that."
But with the 27-year-old also aware that his feelings toward the home crowd in Houston likely won't be mutual, he also reiterated that he's more focused on his Browns debut than he is the location that it's coming in.
"I'm focused on being the starting quarterback and executing the game plan," Watson said. "That's not my main focus. I'm not worried about the atmosphere. I've got to go in and make sure I execute the game plan."