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'We believe Deshaun Watson deserves a second chance': Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam speak out following settlement

'Is he never supposed to play again? Is he never supposed to be a part of society? Does he get no chance to rehabilitate himself?'

CLEVELAND — Following the announcement of a settlement between Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, the NFL and NFLPA, team owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam held a press conference Thursday to discuss the quarterback's 11-game suspension. 

Jimmy Haslam opened up the conversation with the media by recognizing the effects the Watson trade has had on community members. 

"I think we as an organization realize how sensitive this is, how emotional it is to all kinds of different people and how a lot of people have been affected by this situation," he said. "We take this very seriously."

However, he also talked about his belief in second chances, especially when it comes to Watson. 

"Is he never supposed to play again?" he asked. "Is he never supposed to be a part of society? Does he get no chance to rehabilitate himself? That's what we're going to do.

"We think people deserve a second chance. We gave Kareem Hunt a second chance, and that has worked out pretty well. We are hoping this works out, and we have a strong belief it will. It doesn't mean we don't have empathy for the people affected and will continue to do so. But we strongly believe, strongly believe people deserve a second chance. We believe Deshaun Watson deserves a second chance."

You can watch their full remarks, along with general manager Andrew Berry, in the player below:

RELATED: Browns QB Deshaun Watson says he maintains his innocence after 11-game suspension

Both Jimmy and Dee Haslam believe Watson has been and is continuing to work on improving himself off the field. 

"Since Deshaun came into our building in April, he has done everything we have asked of him and more," Jimmy said. "He has been the person and leader we expected him to be. He understands where he is in his life, and it is a pivotal point. We as an organization are going to not only help him be the best football player, but more importantly, be the best person he can be."

"Counseling takes time," Dee added, alluding to the term of the settlement mandating Watson undergo treatment. "You don't just go to a counseling session and wake up and understand the impact it has. It is a layering effect, and it takes weeks, months, a long time to get to where you understand so much more about yourself.

"I think Deshaun has made progress since he came here and is making progress. It is not going to happen overnight. He is 26 years old and is just getting into counseling. I think it is going to take some time."

Credit: Joshua Gunter/Cleveland.com via AP
Cleveland Browns managing and principal partner Jimmy Haslam, right, speaks to the media, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, in Berea, Ohio, after the team announced that quarterback Deshaun Watson has reached a settlement with the NFL and will serve an 11-game unpaid suspension and pay a $5 million fine rather than risk missing his first season as quarterback of the Cleveland Browns following accusations of sexual misconduct while he played for the Houston Texans. Browns general manager and executive vice president of football operations Andrew Berry, center, and Browns managing and principal partner Dee Haslam listen.

Specifically, Dee Haslam hopes this situation can result in a conversation about what can be done to prevent sexual misconduct, and she also announced Thursday the Browns will be investing $1 million into programs for awareness and prevention of sexual misconduct.

"I hope the conversation comes to, 'What can we do going forwarded to get the information out to help other people?'" she said. "There is a huge opportunity to talk about the major issues in our country, in this area, such as sex trafficking and massage parlor use, etc. There is so much information we can glean from this, and the opportunity is tremendous. We can continue to talk about Deshaun or the major issues our country faces and make a difference.

"As an organization and as individuals, we have tremendous empathy for the women involved ... We are going to work really hard on prevention, and we are looking really forward to getting involved and started on that." 

Meanwhile, as the Browns head into Week 1 of the NFL season against the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 11, Jimmy Haslam and Andrew Berry have confidence in backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett. 

"We have a lot of other really good football players that will practice today," said Jimmy Haslam. "We have a talented team and we have confidence in Jacoby Brissett, and we are looking forward to going forward." 


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