Nike has suspended its endorsement contract with Deshaun Watson amid allegations of sexual assault and harassment towards the Houston Texans quarterback.
“We’re deeply involved by the disturbing allegations and have suspended Deshaun Watson,” Nike mentioned in a press release launched Wednesday. “We’ll proceed to carefully monitor the scenario.”
Watson has been accused of sexual assault or harassment in lawsuits filed by 22 ladies. A kind of ladies, Ashley Solis, mentioned Tuesday throughout a information convention that she was assaulted and traumatized when she tried to offer Watson a therapeutic massage in March 2020.
Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, has referred to as the allegations “meritless” and questioned the claims towards Watson, alleging they had been made following a failed try to blackmail his consumer.
The Houston Police Division mentioned final week it was investigating Watson after somebody had filed a report with the company about Watson. Tony Buzbee, who represents the 22 ladies, mentioned it was not Solis however one other of his purchasers who filed the primary report with police.
The NFL has been in touch with Buzbee throughout its personal investigation.
Nike contract started in 2017
Watson was signed to a take care of Nike in 2017 when he entered the NFL. Final November, he teamed with the corporate to offer jerseys for Yates Excessive College in Houston. George Floyd graduated from Yates in 1993 and performed soccer for the varsity.
Watson’s purple Nike cleats that he wore in Houston’s 53-32 win over the Atlanta Falcons throughout Week 5 in 2019 had been despatched to the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame. Watson was the primary participant in NFL historical past to go for at the very least 400 yards and 5 TDs with 5 or fewer incompletions in a single recreation.
Solis mentioned in her assertion that because the alleged assault, she suffers from panic assaults, nervousness, despair and is not snug working as a therapeutic massage therapist.
However in a press release, Hardin alleged that Buzbee sought “$100,000 in hush cash” on behalf of Solis earlier than she filed her lawsuit.
In a latest electronic mail to season ticket holders, Texans chairman Cal McNair, whose household owns the crew, mentioned they had been conscious of the lawsuits towards Watson and that the crew takes “these allegations very severely.”
“Whereas we await the conclusion of those investigations, we specific our sturdy stance towards any type of sexual assault. Our household and the whole Houston Texans group are deeply troubled by any type of abuse and we condemn this sort of behaviour,” McNair mentioned.
Watson is likely one of the league’s prime quarterbacks and led the NFL in yards passing final season. He signed a four-year, $156 million US contract extension with the Texans final low season, however he grew to become sad with the course of the crew as Houston sunk to 4-12. Watson requested a commerce in January.