Via a letter reportedly sent to attorney Tony Buzbee last month, NFL special counsel for investigations Lisa Friel confirmed that the league was looking into allegations of sexual assault and misconduct made against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
NFL vice president of communications Brian McCarthy addressed the accusations in a statement delivered to Pro Football Talk on Tuesday.
“The allegations are deeply disturbing and we take these issues very seriously,” McCarthy said. “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.”
The Houston Police Department announced on Friday it had opened an investigation into the 25-year-old star signal-caller after somebody filed a report. Buzbee, who is representing at least 22 plaintiffs in civil lawsuits against Watson, hosted a Tuesday press conference that included revealing the identities of two alleged victims. Two people have thus far spoken with the HPD about the quarterback.
Watson has denied any wrongdoing but, as PFT’s Josh Alper wrote, could nevertheless land on the commissioner’s exempt list amid the ongoing investigations. The NFL could also fine and suspend Watson via the personal conduct policy.
Watson requested a trade from the Texans before the first lawsuit was filed, but it’s widely assumed no team will actively pursue him with his playing status very much up in the air ahead of the NFL Draft that opens April 29.