Mon Jun 27 2:53pm ET
By JUAN A. LOZANO
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson speaks during a news conference after an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, in Carson, Calif. The Houston Texans had been told that their former quarterback Deshaun Watson was sexually assaulting and harassing women during massage sessions, but instead of trying to stop him, the team provided him with resources to enable his actions and turned a blind eye to his behavior, according to a lawsuit filed Monday, June 27, 2022. Watson, who was later traded to the Cleveland Browns, has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to clear his name. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)
HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans had been told that their former quarterback Deshaun Watson was sexually assaulting and harassing women during massage sessions, but instead of trying to stop him, the team provided him with resources to enable his actions and ''turned a blind eye'' to his behavior, according to a lawsuit filed Monday.
The lawsuit against the team was filed in Houston by one of the 24 women who had previously sued Watson over allegations of sexual misconduct when he played for the Texans. Last week, the women's attorney, Tony Buzbee, announced 20 of the 24 lawsuits have been settled.
Watson, who was later traded to the Cleveland Browns, has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to clear his name. Watson is facing discipline from the NFL over the allegations. He is set to have a hearing this week with NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson, who will decide if the 26-year-old violated the league's personal conduct policy. Robinson is expected to rule before the Browns open training camp late next month.
In their lawsuits, the women accused Watson of exposing himself, touching them with his penis or kissing them against their will during massage appointments. One woman alleged Watson forced her to perform oral sex.
The lawsuit against the Texans accuses the team and some of its employees of having been told or being aware of Watson's troubling behavior. Joni Honn, the owner of a massage company that was contracted with the Texans, told police investigators that her therapists were aware of Watson's ''known tendency to push boundaries during massage sessions,'' according to the lawsuit.
Honn told the Texans, including the team's head trainer, that Watson was reaching out to random women on Instagram for massages in early 2020, according to the lawsuit.
Magen Weisheit, another massage therapist who worked with the Texans, told Houston police investigators she and others were well aware of Watson's conduct during massage sessions. When Weisheit learned of the allegations made against Watson by a woman who filed the first lawsuit against him, she wrote in a text to the woman's former co-worker that she could reach out to the team's player personnel person but ''they don't do much about the situation though,'' according to the lawsuit.
''Despite being actually aware of what can only be described as troubling behavior, the Houston Texans turned a blind eye. Worse, the Houston Texans organization enabled Watson's egregious behavior. The Texans also protected and shielded Watson - for Watson's own protection and the protection of the organization itself,'' according to the lawsuit.
The woman's lawsuit alleges the Texans provided Watson with various resources, including rooms at a Houston hotel, massage tables and a non-disclosure agreement the women were told to sign, that allowed the quarterback ''to further his misconduct with women by turning the massage sessions into something sexual.''
The Texans are also accused of having their head of security remove from the internet an Instagram video from November 2020 in which a woman had detailed alleged misconduct by Watson during massage sessions with her.
In a statement, the Houston Texans did not specifically address the various allegations made against the team.
''We are aware of the lawsuit filed against us today. Since March 2021, we have fully supported and complied with law enforcement and the various investigations. We will continue to take the necessary steps to address the allegations against our organization,'' the Texans said.
Buzbee said the lawsuit against the Texans was the first of many he plans to file against the team.
''Suffice it to say, the overwhelming evidence collected indicating that the Houston Texans enabled Watson's behavior is incredibly damning. We believe the Texans knew or most certainly should have known of Watson's conduct,'' Buzbee said in a statement.
The NFL declined to comment on the lawsuit against the Texans.
''I never assaulted anyone,'' Watson said June 14 in his first public comments since being introduced by the Browns in March. ''I never harassed anyone or I never disrespected anyone. I never forced anyone to do anything.''
In March, two separate Texas grand juries declined to indict him on criminal complaints stemming from the allegations.
Houston police Detective Kamesha Baker, the lead investigator in the criminal investigation, told Buzbee in a deposition that she believed Watson had committed crimes in the 10 criminal complaints that had been filed against the quarterback. Baker also said that Watson's conduct during the massage sessions was escalating in such a way she believed that he would commit even more serious crimes, according to the lawsuit.
After the grand juries declined to indict, several teams pursued Watson, who agreed to be traded to the Browns. Cleveland signed the three-time Pro Bowler to a five-year, $230 million contract in March.
The four lawsuits still pending against Watson could still go to trial, but that wouldn't happen until 2023 at the earliest.
Seattle Seahawks veteran kicker Jason Myers went 1-for-2 on field-goal attempts during Thursday's preseason loss to the Chicago Bears. He missed from 47 yards out and was successful from 27 yards. Myers faces no competition in training camp and will be the Seahawks' kicker in Week 1 versus Denver, barring an injury. He made 17 of 23 field goals and 44 of 47 extra points en route to finishing as the 25th-best kicker in fantasy football last season. In the three years prior, he ranked as the K10, K14, and K4.
Seattle Seahawks rookie wide receiver Bo Melton consistently popped up in the passing game, commanding 11 targets during Thursday's preseason game against the Chicago Bears. However, with shaky quarterback play partly to blame, the seventh-round pick hauled in just four passes for 18 yards. After catching three passes for 47 yards last week, Melton has at least shown that he deserves a role in the offense. He continues to compete for a roster spot and is certainly trending in the right direction.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Aaron Fuller turned 10 targets into just three catches for 34 yards during Thursday's preseason game. Shaky quarterback play was partly to blame for Fuller's low catch rate, though he did see much more action this week compared to last week (one catch, nine yards). The 24-year-old spent all of 2021 on the practice squad and faces an uphill battle as he looks to latch onto the roster this year.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Penny Hart hauled in two of three targets for 46 yards during Thursday's preseason loss to the Chicago Bears. This performance is an improvement on his two catches for three yards in Week 1 of the preseason. The 26-year-old is competing for a depth role after catching seven passes for 59 yards in 2021. Notably, he was active for every game last year, something not many players on the depth chart can say. At this point, it would be a surprise if Hart doesn't make the 53-man roster.
Seattle Seahawks running back DeeJay Dallas did a little bit of everything against the Chicago Bears on Thursday evening, getting involved as a runner, receiver, and special teamer. He totaled five carries for just 15 yards on the ground but played a huge role in the passing game, hauling in four of five targets for an additional 52 yards on the ground. He also returned two punts, taking the first for a fair catch and the second for a loss of two yards. Finally, he served as a gunner for Seattle, downing one of Michael Dickson's 10 punts. This versatility could benefit Dallas in an enormous way as he competes for a roster spot.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith completed 10 of 18 passes for 112 yards during Thursday's preseason game against the Chicago Bears. He did not throw an interception, nor did he find the end zone. He was sacked twice in the contest. Smith played the entire first half with Drew Lock (COVID-19) sidelined but handed over the reins to Jacob Eason in the second half. Smith and Lock are currently competing for the No. 1 quarterback role, barring a late signing or trade. Both quarterbacks would be on a short leash if they won the starting job and neither is worth scrambling for in fantasy leagues.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Jacob Eason went 17-for-35 with 141 passing yards, zero touchdowns, and zero interceptions during Thursday's preseason loss to the Chicago Bears. He was sacked once and added just one rushing yard in the contest. Eason played all of the second half but remains penciled into the No. 3 role in the Seattle offense. He is a longshot to make the Week 1 roster and has no fantasy relevance, other than as a low-end DFS play during the final preseason game.
Seattle Seahawks running back Travis Homer rushed five times for 44 yards during Thursday's loss to the Chicago Bears. Homer broke off a big run early in the game and finished the day with 8.8 yards per carry. He remains in competition with DeeJay Dallas for the No. 3 role behind Kenneth Walker and Rashaad Penny, but it's hard to imagine a scenario in which Homer doesn't win a roster spot. If injuries take their toll on Seattle's backfield once again this coming season, Homer could find himself thrust into action from time to time.
Seattle Seahawks running back Darwin Thompson rushed six times for 34 yards and one touchdown during Thursday's preseason game against the Chicago Bears. He also turned his lone target into a seven-yard reception. Formerly a depth piece in the Kansas City backfield, Thompson hopes to latch onto the Seahawks' roster in 2022. He's currently competing for a role with Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas, both of whom also looked solid on Thursday. Given his lack of experience in the Seattle offense, he could be the odd man out when rosters trim down.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones informed reporters on Thursday he underwent a non-football-related procedure on his neck during the winter. However, per the signal-caller, it wasn't associated with the issue that caused him to miss six games last season. Nevertheless, although the 25-year-old also conveyed his "neck is great," he must now turn his attention to turning things around after posting three subpar seasons since entering the league in 2019. With former Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll at the helm, Jones won't have any excuses if he doesn't deliver throughout the 2022-23 campaign, especially if his offensive weapons remain healthy.
Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones (back) has a chance to play on Saturday during the preseason matchup against Washington. The veteran left Wednesday's practice and wasn't on the field for Thursday's session, with head coach Andy Reid referring to the injury as a "back spasm." The 28-year-old has been in the league for six seasons, all with the Chiefs, accumulating 199 total tackles (138 solo), 49.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. Jones has been a reliable IDP presence over the years due to his durability, so it would be surprising if the ailment forces him to miss time throughout the 2022-23 campaign.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman (groin) has a chance to suit up for Saturday's preseason game versus the Commanders, according to head coach Andy Reid. Fortunately, the groin injury he suffered on Wednesday at practice isn't considered serious. Although he isn't a lock for Week 1, his potential availability for the exhibition against Washington is a good sign that he'll be ready. The 24-year-old has compiled 1,791 yards and 12 touchdowns off 126 catches throughout his three years in the league, all with Kansas City. Hardman has plenty of hype entering the 2022-23 campaign, primarily after Tyreek Hill was traded to Miami during the offseason, so the team is undoubtedly hoping to get him on the field for the regular season.
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (knee) has an "outside chance" to play in Week 1, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. The signal-caller had a meniscus trim after tearing it during the preseason matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. While things could have turned out much worse for Wilson, he is also dealing with a bone bruise, complicating his recovery. Nonetheless, the Jets hope to see the 23-year-old improve significantly after his subpar rookie campaign. Yet, the team won't take any chances, so he won't be rushed back early. If that's the case, veteran Joe Flacco will be under center until Wilson can return.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackle Tristan Wirfs (core) exited Thursday's joint practice with the Tennessee Titans. Although there hasn't been much information released surrounding the issue, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reported the All-Pro is dealing "with some sort of left core injury." The team should have an update on his condition relatively soon. However, with the Bucs already bracing to be without Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen (knee) during the regular season, losing Wirfs won't be ideal for the 45-year-old Tom Brady.
Tennessee Titans rookie wide receiver Kyle Philips stole the show in joint practice with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday. Philips continued to get open all day, and he especially stood out near the goal line. "He goes rabbit hunting with a hammer," head coach Mike Vrabel said when describing Philips' quickness and shiftiness. The 23-year-old didn't catch his only target in the preseason opener against the Baltimore Ravens last Thursday. Even though the fifth-rounder has been impressing in camp practices this summer, he's still likely to open the regular season behind Robert Woods, fellow rookie Treylon Burks and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine on the receiver depth chart. But Philips is a name to file away for fantasy managers in dynasty/keeper leagues.
Dynasty | Jaguars running back James Robinson is on track to be ready for the season opener. Dynasty Analysis: This has been trending to happen for the better part of the Summer, but Doug Pederson is now on record saying that's the expectation. It's a quick recovery from a torn achilles last season, but it looks as if Robinson is going to join Cam Akers in the group of quick healers from the ailment. While much of the talk of the Jaguars running back room has been centered around Travis Etienne, Robinson has been likely undervalued by the dynasty community. At RB41, he's looking like a screaming buy at the moment.
It appears that Pittsburgh Steelers undrafted rookie running back Jaylen Warren has supplanted Benny Snell Jr. as the team's No. 2 running back behind Najee Harris. Warren has done nothing but impress at training camp and has benefitted from first-team repetitions with Harris and Snell banged up a bit. The 23-year-old probably isn't worth anything more than a late-round flier as a handcuff for those that take Harris early in deeper leagues, but he could see significant work in Pittsburgh's backfield in his rookie season if anything were to happen to Harris. Warren had six carries for 34 yards and caught four of his five targets for 30 yards and a touchdown in the preseason opener last week. He's rising up draft boards in dynasty/keeper leagues.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (appendix), who had an appendectomy on July 26 after his appendix ruptured, took part in team drills at training camp practice for the first time on Wednesday. Burrow is looking to add weight and return his body to its pre-surgery form before Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he doesn't expect to play in the preseason. The third-year signal-caller played just one series in the preseason last year after coming off major knee surgery and went on to lead the team to the Super Bowl in 2021, so fantasy managers shouldn't be too concerned. The 25-year-old could be a little slow out of the gates in the regular season, but he's still worth a selection as a strong QB1 in fantasy drafts.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup (knee) was running routes to close out Thursday's training camp practice against the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday. It's the first time that Gallup has run routes since he had surgery to fix a torn ACL on Jan. 2, so it marks a significant step in his recovery. He remains on the Physically Unable to Perform list at camp and won't be ready for the Week 1 regular season opener, but Gallup could be ready to go shortly after that. The 26-year-old had 35 receptions for 445 yards and two touchdowns in nine games in 2021 before his injury, and he should be Dallas' No. 2 receiver behind CeeDee Lamb when he's healthy enough to return. Because he won't be ready for Week 1, Gallup may go undrafted in 12-team fantasy leagues, but he's worth stashing as a late-round selection if you have the room.
Pittsburgh Steelers DE Cameron Heyward (ankle) was carted off the field after suffering an ankle injury during practice Thursday, Aug. 18. He was able to return to the field but did not participate in any drills.