Watson will undergo “professional evaluation by behavioral experts and follow their treatment program,” according to the agreement.
“I’m moving forward with my career and my life, and I’m going to continue to stand by my innocence,” Watson told the media on Thursday. “Just because settlements and things like that are happening doesn’t mean that person is guilty of anything.”
He added: “I feel like the person has the opportunity to stand on their innocence and prove that, and we’ve proven that legally, and we just have to keep moving forward as a individual and as a person.”
Twenty-four civil lawsuits have been filed against Watson; 23 were settled confidentially. Two Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal charges.
“Deshaun Watson deserves a second chance”
Susan “Dee” Haslam, co-owner of the Browns, pledged on Thursday to invest $1 million “to educate young people about sexual misconduct.”
“As an organization and as individuals, we have enormous empathy for the women involved and we have the opportunity to make a difference in this community,” she told reporters.
Her husband and team co-owner Jimmy Haslam said: “People deserve a second chance.”
“Is he never supposed to play again? Is he never supposed to be part of society? Does he have no chance to rehabilitate? And that’s what we’re going to do,” he said. he declared, referring to Watson.
“That doesn’t mean we don’t have empathy for those affected and we will continue to do so,” he added. “We think Deshaun Watson deserves a second chance.”
The NFL previously announced it would appeal a decision by former federal judge Sue L. Robinson to have Watson sit without pay for six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy while he was with the Houston Texans.
The league had instead pushed for at least a season-long suspension.
Goodell said Thursday, “Deshaun is committed to doing the hard work on himself that is necessary for his return to the NFL.
“This settlement requires adherence to a professional assessment and treatment plan, a significant fine and a more substantial suspension.”
In her written decision, Robinson cited Watson’s “lack of expressed remorse” as a factor in the discipline she chose.
The Browns QB released a statement on Thursday saying in part: “I am grateful that the disciplinary process has been completed and extremely grateful for the tremendous support I have received throughout my short time with the Browns organization.
“I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused. I take responsibility for the decisions I have made.”
Prior to the settlement, Watson was awaiting the decision of former New Jersey Attorney General and Federal Prosecutor Peter Harvey, who was appointed as Goodell’s agent to hear the appeal.
Watson didn’t play last season as a member of the Texans. Watson played in the Browns’ first preseason game last week.
Cleveland head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters Thursday that Watson will not play in the team’s final two preseason games. Replacement Jacoby Brissett will start in place of Watson until he is eligible to return on December 4.
According to the NFL, Watson would be eligible to play in Week 13, against his former team the Texans.
Prior to the short interview, Watson repeatedly denied allegations of misconduct, including sexual assault and harassment involving more than two dozen women. He didn’t specify in the interview what he meant when he said “this situation.”
A three-time Pro Bowler, Watson sat out last season with the Texans due to trade demand as well as investigations into those allegations.
Earlier this year, the Browns traded three first-round picks for Watson, then signed him to a five-year, fully guaranteed, $230 million deal, the most guaranteed money in NFL history.
CNN’s Matt Foster and Homero De La Fuente contributed to this report.