HOUSTON — After 22 women have filed civil lawsuits against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, alleging sexual assault and inappropriate conduct, Nike Inc. has suspended their endorsement of the 25-year-old, according to Reuters.
In March, Houston attorney Tony Buzbee announced his firm was filing multiple lawsuits against the quarterback, representing women and masseuses alleging that Watson contacted them for hire via social media and continued to conduct himself inappropriately during the sessions.
“We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and have suspended Deshaun Watson. We will continue to closely monitor the situation,” Nike said in a statement.
Watson is accused of exposing his genitals to the women, as well as forcing at least one of them to perform oral sex.
The quarterback denied all allegations in a statement he tweeted on March 16.
Watson’s attorney Rusty Hardin has consistently said that he and his client will cooperate fully with law enforcement and the investigation and also denies the allegations.
Hardin alleges that Buzbee is solely seeking money in a statement released Tuesday:
“On February 19, Mr. Gaffield [Watson representative] responded to Mr. Buzbee and Ms. Brandfield-Harvey [Buzbee associate] by inquiring about ‘the rationale behind the $100k demand’ given that ‘we don’t believe that the alleged facts show that Deshaun did anything wrong…'”
He added a response from Buzbee:
“We made a legit demand. You rejected it. We won’t be making another or bid against ourselves. This is Houston, Texas. Perhaps you should find him a lawyer here so you can apprise both you and your client of the landscape here and who you are dealing with.”
Nike is the first brand that has reacted to the allegations of Watson. The quarterback has endorsements from other global brands like Rolex and Beats by Dre.
The Houston Texans franchise has released a letter to season ticket holders stating they are taking the allegations seriously.
Upon the first allegations in march, the NFL announced they would be conducting a separate investigation into the allegations.
Watson requested a trade from the Houston Texans in January.