Editor’s note: This story contains reports of sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a sexual assault survivor, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or at https://www.rainn.org.
Michael Mizanin is a die-hard Browns fan, despite all the turmoil and coaching changes over the years with the franchise. However, when the WWE wrestler, better known as “The Miz,” shows up for Sunday’s Browns games at FirstEnergy Stadium, he won’t be supporting or rooting for Deshaun Watson.
“I’m still a Browns fan,” Mizanin told TMZ Sports. “But you won’t see me with one [Deshaun] Watson jersey.”
The Browns traded Watson in March and signed him to a five-year contract worth a guaranteed $230 million, though the quarterback now faces 24 active civil lawsuits. Prior to May 31, Watson faced 22 active civil lawsuits. Two more were filed against the Browns quarterback in over a week.
The lawsuits contain graphic depictions of sexual harassment and assault that occurred during massage therapy sessions. Reports range from Watson allegedly refusing to cover his genitals to the quarterback being “touched.” [a plaintiff] with his penis and trying to force her to perform oral sex on him.” The 24th civil complaint alleges that Watson masturbated and ejaculated on the plaintiff without her consent.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters on Wednesday that he was “respectful” of the court proceedings regarding Watson and didn’t have much say other than let the legal system do its job. “I’ll let that play out,” said Stefanski.
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Stefanski’s comments follow The New York Times published a bombshell report on Watson detailing that he had booked sessions with at least 66 different women for massage therapy sessions over a 17 month period. Even more that Times‘ Jenny Vrentas revealed that the Houston-based spa and Texans “enabled” Watson’s massage habit, saying the franchise shared non-disclosure agreements and facilities for his sessions.
Despite legal troubles piling up for Watson, he has denied all charges against him, and two Texas grand juries declined to indict him on criminal charges.
At this time, it’s not clear if Watson faces a fine, suspension or no punishment following the league’s investigation. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently stated that the league is “nearing the end of its investigation,” but no timeline was given for when the league’s disciplinary officer would come up with a decision.
However, June 30 could be a critical date in the process, they say sports illustratedby Albert Breer. The date marks the deadline for pre-trial discovery of Watson’s 24 active civil claims. Per Breer, in the 2020 CBA, the league has “delegated initial decision-making over discipline to a neutral arbiter. And if you’re thinking like a former US district judge, it stands to reason that you need as much information as possible before you make a decision.” Breer believes a decision on Watson is likely to come in July.
With Watson’s status up in the air, Miz won’t be shouting his name in celebration if the Browns score touchdowns or win games.
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