Brynn Anderson/Associated Press
NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent addressed the multiple sexual assault and misconduct lawsuits against Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson during an appearance on Up On Game with LaVar Arrington, TJ Houshmandzadeh and Plaxico Burress.
Vincent said he’s “just praying for the young man, personally, today” (via The Athletic):
“I’m praying for the young ladies that have come out. This is not good for anybody, forget the sport. But I think we’ve learned that every situation’s different. They’re delicate. You make sure that folks, whether it’s the accuser, the victim, whoever it may be, that there’s a due process in place. And I think we’ve learned that over time, not that we’ve rushed in the past, but I think we’ve learned from the different cases that we’ve seen with this particular subject matter, let the due process take care of itself, then that’s up to Lisa (Friel, NFL special counsel for investigations) and her team to now make the proper recommendations to what direction the commissioner and the commissioner’s office should take.”
ESPN laid out the allegations against Watson in 22 civil suits. Collectively, the women “accuse him of a range of actions during massage appointments over the past year, from refusing to cover his genitals to forced oral sex.”
Earlier this month, 22 women amended their suits to include their names following rulings by two judges requiring most of the plaintiffs to identify themselves. While one plaintiff dropped her suit because of privacy and security concerns, another woman filed suit in Harris County, Texas.
Rusty Hardin, Watson’s attorney, responded to the suits on April 19 and said the quarterback “has been adamant that he did not engage in any improper conduct and we strongly believe him.”
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy confirmed April 6 the league was investigating Watson under its personal conduct policy. He also called the allegations “deeply disturbing.”
Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston reported at least two of the plaintiffs have agreed to speak with NFL investigator Lisa Friel. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio noted that was an important step because the NFL doesn’t have the authority to compel anybody not employed within the league to take part in an investigation.
It’s unclear whether Watson will be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list pending the results of the investigation. Were that to happen, the three-time Pro Bowler would continue to get paid but be unable to practice or play in games.