Nike, Beats by Dre suspend Deshaun Watson endorsement deals following allegations
Amid the sexual assault and inappropriate behavior allegations against the quarterback, sponsors are bailing out
As the sexual assault and inappropriate behavior allegations against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson continue to make headlines, the athlete is facing fallout financially.
According to ESPN, sportswear company Nike has suspended its endorsement deal with Watson, among other companies backing away from the embattled player.
“We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and have suspended Deshaun Watson. We will continue to closely monitor the situation,” Nike said in a statement Wednesday.
Houston-based Reliant Energy says their initial contract with Watson is set to expire this spring and the company has “no plans for future engagements or contracts with him.”
Beats By Dre has also announced their sponsorship of the athlete is no more, according to the report. Watson has existing brand partnerships with Rolex, a local partnership with H-E-B, and he opened a Lefty’s, a cheesesteak franchise, in Houston in 2020.
According to NFL.com, two of the 22 women who have accused Watson have now made their identity public. Ashley Solis, the first woman to file suit against Watson, said she was assaulted and traumatized while attempting to give the athlete a massage in March 2020.
“I come forward now so that Deshaun Watson does not assault another woman. … I am seeking justice not just on behalf of myself but for all survivors. … This is about having my voice heard,” Solis said, at a press conference where she appeared with Houston lawyer Tony Buzbee, who represents all 22 accusers. She read her statement through tears.
In the lawsuits, the women accuse Watson of exposing himself, touching them with his genitals, or kissing them against their will during massage sessions. At least one woman has accused the quarterback of forcing her to perform a sexual act. All of the women who have sued are either licensed massage therapists, worked in a spa, or conduct similar business.
The second woman who made her name known, according to NFL, is Lauren Baxley. In a letter read by an attorney with Buzbee’s law firm, she addressed her experience with Watson.
“There is trauma associated with unwanted sexual contact and assault in a place that’s meant to bring peace and therapy, but there are even deeper terrors that you have brought into my life,” Baxley said.
The NFL released the following statement:
“The allegations are deeply disturbing and we take these issues very seriously. Immediately following news of the first allegations last month, and as has been reported, we initiated an investigation under the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy. We are continuing to closely monitor all developments in the matter.”
As theGrio reported, an investigation has been launched by the Houston Police Department after a complainant filed a report against Watson on April 2.
“As with any allegation, the Houston Police Department is now conducting an investigation and will not comment further during the investigative process,” the department said in an official statement.
ESPN reported that the department didn’t address the nature of the allegations against Watson or whether they’re related to the previous allegations of sexual assault he’s facing from 21 civil lawsuits.
Rusty Hardin, Watson’s lawyer, said they will “fully cooperate” with the investigation.
This article contains additional reporting from theGrio’s Ashley Terrell.
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