The hits just keep coming for quarterback Deshaun Watson.
With nearly two dozen massage therapists claiming either sexual assault or sexual misconduct by the Texans quarterback, Nike announced on Wednesday that it is suspending its endorsement contract with Watson. Beats By Dre also announced later in the day that it was also backing away from the embattled quarterback.
Houston-based Reliant Energy and H-E-B are also reportedly not renewing endorsement deals with Watson.
“We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and have suspended Deshaun Watson,” Nike said in a released statement. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
Watson has been dealing with these allegations publicly for nearly a month now but what changed is Tuesday there was finally a face with the allegations when two of his accusers, who are represented by attorney Tony Buzbee, revealed themselves in public for the first time Tuesday during a press conference, one via her physical presence and the other via a written statement.
Ashley Solis, who was the first one to file a civil lawsuit against Watson last month, gave an emotional account of her allegations against Watson with Buzbee by her side. Solis claims that the assault took place in March 2020.
Watson, of course, has denied all allegations against him.
“I am a survivor of assault and harassment,” she said in a prepared statement. “Deshaun Watson is my assaulter and my harasser. He assaulted me at my home doing what I love most, massage therapy.
“I can no longer practice the profession I love the most without shaking…I hope he knew how heartbreaking that is to me.”
Solis, who is now planning to press criminal charges after initially filing a civil lawsuit, said her coming forward was not about the money.
But Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, quickly struck back calling the allegations meritless and revealing that Solis asked Watson through Buzbee to pay her $100,000 to keep quiet in February.
Hardin has produced 18 massage therapists who contradict the accusations of the 22 accusers.
“These women say they are deeply troubled by the accusations made against Deshaun and that these claims are wholly inconsistent with their experiences with him and who they believe him to be,” Hardin said in a statement.
Watson has been signed to Nike since he entered the NFL in 2017. And this past November, he teamed with Nike to provide football jerseys for Yates High School in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, who played for Yates and graduated from the school in 1993.
Last week, the Houston Police Department said it has opened a criminal investigation after the first complaint was filed. The NFL has also opened an investigation into the allegations and the Texans said the organization takes the accusations “seriously” and is awaiting the results of the NFL’s investigation.
The next shoe to likely drop may be Watson’s suspension from the NFL with pay under the commissioner’s exempt list pending the investigation. Watson, who had demanded to be traded prior to all these allegations, signed a four-year, $156 million contract extension with the Texans in September.