CLEVELAND, Ohio -- For the first time, embattled NFL quarterback Deshaun Watson offered an apology to the women who accused him of sexually predatory behavior during massage sessions.
Speaking with Cleveland Browns team reporter Aditi Kinkhabwala on Friday, Watson said he was remorseful over his choices that got him to this point.
"I'm truly sorry to all the women that I've impacted in this situation. (There are) decisions that I made in my life that put me in this position I would definitely like to have back," Watson said. "But I want to continue to move forward and grow and learn and show that I am a true person of character and I am going to keep pushing forward."
The response came after Kinkhabwala alluded to a lack of remorse that played into Judge L. Robinsons' decision to suspend him.
Asked about what personal growth would look like, Watson told Kinkhabwala that part of that involves continuing counseling.
Watson's on-camera statements came just before he was due to take the field for his first game of competitive football in 19 months. His Browns team, which traded for him from Houston and agreed to pay him $230 million over five years, faces Jacksonville to open the preseason.
An independent arbitrator suspended Watson, accused of lewd sexual behavior during massage appointments with two dozen women while he played for the Houston Texans, six games for violating the league's personal conduct policy on Aug. 1.
The league appealed that ruling and is seeking a minimum suspension of 17 games, a significant fine and wants Watson to be required to undergo evaluation and treatment as determined by medical experts before he could be reinstated.
A source told the Associated Press on Thursday that Watson would accept an eight-game suspension and a $5 million fine to avoid missing the entire season.
Watson's case now rests with Peter C. Harvey, a former New Jersey Attorney General appointed last week by Goodell to handle the league's appeal. Harvey's decision could come at any time.
Harvey's decision "will be binding," per the collective bargaining agreement. However, the NFL Players Association could try to challenge his ruling in federal court. A settlement would avoid that.
Watson has already settled 23 of the 24 sexual misconduct lawsuits against him.
Eyewitness News reached out to Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, who has filed the lawsuits on behalf of the women. In a statement, Buzbee alluded to the one remaining woman who has an active suit against Watson.
"To the one woman who still has an open case, and he knows exactly who she is, if he wants to apologize, he should do so-to her. I can arrange that for him. Otherwise, I'll let your viewers decide if what he has said is an appropriate apology to the women I represent," Buzbee said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.