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Nike Suspends Deshaun Watson Deal As Lawsuits Pile Up

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By Mario Perez

Many of the NFL’s top quarterbacks are having quite an eventful offseason. Just ask the Green Bay Packers’ star Aaron Rodgers. His eventful offseason included a Disney trip with his newly minted fiance while taking time to host ‘Jeopardy!

For Texans quarterback, Deshaun Watson the offseason has also been an eventful time. It’s just that in his case he’s been on the news for all of the wrong reasons. Today sports apparel company Nike announced that it is suspending their endorsement of Watson as the player faces 22 lawsuits of sexual misconduct.

Nike Is Stepping Back

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Just yesterday one of the first women to come public with allegations against Watson, Ashley Solis, spoke to the media about the situation. She claims to suffer from panic attacks, depression, anxiety and other conditions steaming from the sexual assault incident. Perhaps in direct response to that statement Nike announced that it would be suspending its endorsement of the quarterback. In a statement the company mentioned,

“We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and have suspended Deshaun Watson. We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

Houston Police Formally Acknowledges Investigation

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Facing potentially 22 lawsuits regarding incidents of sexual misconduct is certainly a serious situation. When the police department starts tweeting about you, you know that things have gone seriously wrong. Friday, the Houston Police department released a statement via Twitter to notify the public that indeed an investigation into these multiple allegations is taking place. The department mentioned that they would not give out any further comments to the media. All of these instances probably heavily influenced the decision made by Nike executives.

Nike’s Actions With Troubled Athletes In The Past

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Amidst the news that Nike is potentially axing Watson’s contract due to these allegations many people quickly remembered the brand’s actions in years past when Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger faced a similar situation. At the time, the brand actually remained with Roethlisberger through the sexual misconduct allegations and even being accused of rape. In a case in which he ultimately settled with the victim out of court. Of course, the brand did drop Michael Vick when he was convicted over dog fighting.

Other Brands Could Follow Nike’s Footsteps

Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Beats_2014-03-06_18-39.jpg

Just reading the number, 22, ahead of “potential sexual misconduct allegations”, will probably make most brands cringe. As Scott Rosner, academic director of the sports management program at Columbia University told CNBC it’s a different time (when comparing Watson’s situation to Roethlisberger). Rosner mentioned,

“There clearly will be public pressure as there typically is in these types of cases to disassociate themselves formally from the athlete.”

In Watson’s case the next brand to potentially give him the ax is Beats by Dre from Apple. At the time of writing the company has not made a public statement regarding the matter.

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