Nike suspends endorsement deal, Beats by Dre reportedly drops Deshaun Watson amid sexual assault allegations
Nike has suspended its endorsement deal with Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson amid the myriad of sexual assault and sexual misconduct allegations made against him, the company said in a statement to CNBC on Wednesday. Along with Nike, Beats by Dre has reportedly decided to part ways with Watson, according to A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports. Perez adds that Beats, owned by Apple, had already made move to end its relationship with Watson prior to the allegations being disclosed.
Currently, there are 22 separate civil lawsuits against Watson along with several criminal complaints. Houston attorney Tony Buzbee filed the lawsuits on behalf of the women who are alleging that Watson committed at least one act of sexual assault or sexual misconduct. Each of the cases accuses Watson of inappropriate behavior after hiring the women to give him a private massage. One of the lawsuits even characterizes Watson as a "serial predator."
"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.
This suspension from Nike and the dropping of Watson from Beats by Dre comes off the heels of a press conference held on Tuesday where Ashley Solis, one of the women who is accusing Watson of sexual misconduct, spoke publicly. Solis requested that Watson be held accountable for his actions that are alleged to have occurred in March of 2020, which have caused her emotional distress.
"I suffer from panic attacks, anxiety and depression," Solis said Tuesday. "I hope he knows how much pain he's inflicted on me emotionally and physically. ... My father, who was once a diehard Texans fan, can no longer mention [Watson's] name without his face turning red."
Lauren Baxley was also identified as a plaintiff Tuesday when a letter she wrote to Watson was read by Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey, a lawyer who works for Buzbee's firm.
"I initially came forward to offer solidarity to other women, but I have since realized that I'm deserving of justice as well," Baxley wrote. "I hope the court of law brings that justice, and that you're stripped of both your power and ability to hurt more women."
In a statement provided to CBSSports.com following the allegations on March 23, Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, wrote that "any allegation that Deshaun forced a woman to commit a sexual act is completely false." When the Houston Police Department announced on April 2 that it had opened a criminal investigation on Watson following a filed complaint, Hardin noted that they "welcome this long overdue development" and will fully cooperate with law enforcement.
The NFL has also launched its own investigation into Watson under the personal conduct policy. In a statement released on Tuesday, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy called the allegations against Watson "deeply disturbing."
Along with Nike and Beats by Dre, Rolex is another national partnership that Watson has in his portfolio coupled with a handful of local partnerships. Given the recent moves by these two companies, it will be curious to see if any more follow suit.
To read more about the latest details on the allegations against Watson, click here (Warning: some details are quite graphic.)