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Cleveland Browns introduce new QB Deshaun Watson

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Deshaun Watson said assaulting women is “not in my DNA.”

Deshaun Watson said assaulting women is “not in my DNA.”
Image: AP

Deshaun Watson wants to be “hands-on” in the Cleveland community — a poor choice of words, perhaps, given the 22 ongoing civil lawsuits against him for sexual misconduct.

At his formal introductory press conference this afternoon, flanked by Browns GM Andrew Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski, Watson insisted again and again to the gathered press that he had never assaulted any woman in his life, saying, “It’s not in my DNA.”

Yesterday, a second grand jury declined to indict Watson on the last criminal charge still on the table, and today the new Browns QB said that he does not plan to settle any of the 22 civil suits. He wants to fight to clear his name. And when asked whether he was saying that nearly two dozen women were lying, why he used 40 different massage therapists, and what work he was willing to do to rebuild his image, he repeated over and over again that he “couldn’t get too far into it because of the investigation,” but that he had “never assaulted anyone in [his] life.”

He’s ready to move on, but he may only be joined in that sentiment by Stefanski, Berry and Browns owners, the Haslams. The GM said that the Browns began looking into Watson five months ago, launching what he referred to as a comprehensive investigation into the former Texans QB, but denying that they had made a decision on Baker Mayfield’s future with the franchise at that time.

Berry said that the organization spoke to people who had known Watson throughout different phases of his life and used “independent investigative resources within the Harris County and Houston law enforcement to get an unbiased, well-rounded perspective on the allegations.”

So “well-rounded,” in fact, that, according to the attorney for the massage therapists, not a single one of the 22 plaintiffs were ever contacted. Their lawyer, Tony Buzbee, said that no NFL teams reached out to him in their so-called “comprehensive evaluation process” of Watson.

We don’t have to keep repeating that the Browns were willing to overlook just about anything to acquire a top-level quarterback, as it’s just blatantly clear at this point. Coach Stefanski can say that he has “empathy for anyone who’s a victim of sexual abuse” all he wants, but that sentiment is really dampened by Berry sitting five feet away, refusing to answer the question of whether their independent investigators reached out to the women who have alleged assault. (Answer: they didn’t.)

Prompted by ESPN’s Jake Trotter, who asked for clarification on whether or not the Browns had spoken to any of the 22 women involved in the lawsuits, Berry replied, “I’m not going to go into necessarily the details of everything the investigators did, but they got a full perspective of all the criminal and civil cases.” He also said the team’s attorneys advised against reaching out to the plaintiffs.

Trotter wasn’t satisfied.

“So if they didn’t speak to any of the women, what is the basis for you calling your investigation extensive, as you put it Sunday, and also given the fact that some of the women haven’t given sworn testimony yet? They don’t have anything on the record.”

Here was Berry’s response to that:

“So again, Jake, I’ll refer back to my statement. The independent and unbiased investigators were able to be comprehensive in all the information they were able to bring forth. Some of the information, quite honestly, I understand can’t necessarily be public, but we do feel good about the work that we did. We feel good about the work investigators did for us. We got a comprehensive perspective of all the cases.”

Well, not the 22 women’s perspectives, clearly.

Berry kept repeating the line that the Browns were comfortable and confident in “Deshaun as a person.” They didn’t have to do too much examination into Deshaun as a Football Player, but after what Stefanski called “a tremendous amount of background,” which, again, allegedly did not include speaking to any of the women who have accused him of sexual assault, but did include speaking to his former teammates and coaches from Houston and Clemson, they decided that Watson’s off-the-field record could be overlooked in favor of his on-field records.

Let’s be real here. The Browns were never going to come to a conclusion that Watson “as a person” wasn’t the right fit for their organization. His talent spoke for itself there, and everything else can be swept under the rug. Berry, though mindfully sensitive due to the nature of the allegations, clearly wants to move on from this, though he did say that the Browns would cooperate with any NFL investigation.

As for Watson? He wants to “get back to the person that people knew I was before these allegations.” 





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Kawhi Leonard’s return puts the Clippers back in the Western Conference hunt

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Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard
Photo: AP

It’d been nearly 16 months since LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard played an NBA game before Tuesday night’s preseason win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Leonard finished with 11 points in 16 minutes but, more importantly, looked to be fully recovered from the torn ACL he suffered in game four of the 2021 Western Conference semifinals against the Utah Jazz.

Last season the Clippers hung around through the first two months of the season with Paul George leading the way until he went down with an injury in late December. Paul missed over three months before returning at the end of March, but the damage had been done. The Clippers fell from the top five when George was healthy down into the play-in tournament, where they were eliminated, missing the playoffs just one year removed from the franchise’s first WCF appearance.

That’s all behind them now, because Leonard and George are back and healthy, making the Clippers a favorite in the West this year. Stacked up against the rest of the West, this LA team has the tools and depth to make a run at the Warriors’ western conference crown.

Of course, everything is predicated on Leonard’s ability to stay on the floor and be available in the postseason. Based on that notion, the Clippers have more than enough depth to compete with the best teams in the NBA. Over the last two years, head coach Tyronn Lue has proved that he’s more than a product of LeBron James. Lue can coach and has been labeled by many as the best coach in the league at adjusting.

LA should be able to go deep into their lineup, with 10 players receiving significant minutes on a given night. Having that depth should also help preserve Leonard and George through the long 82-game season.

In the backcourt alone, minutes will be tight with a six-guard rotation. Besides George, the Clippers have Reggie Jackson, Norman Powell, Terance Mann, Luke Kennard, and the newest addition John Wall as players that will battle for minutes on the floor. Leonard, Ivica Zubac, Marcus Morris Sr., Nicolas Batum, and Robert Covington comprise the Clippers’ frontcourt and should all see significant minutes, depending on the matchup. And many of these players can play multiple positions.

The road to winning in the NBA is rough, but those teams with depth are usually among the last left standing in the end. Sure, this league is about stars, but those stars also need to be surrounded by pieces that fit their game and what they do best on the court. The Clippers still don’t have a true starting point guard, as Jackson is more of a combo guard, but as we’ve seen in the past, he can certainly get the job done in big moments when called upon.

But again, none of this matters without Leonard on the court when it matters. Depth is fantastic — we just saw the Warriors and Celtics meet in the Finals possessing two of the deeper rosters in the association. Hopefully, there won’t be a need for too much load management in Clipperland this year, and Leonard can play at least 65 games. That’s a feat he hasn’t accomplished since he was in San Antonio.

Again, the main goal is to keep Leonard and PG-13 healthy enough to make a run in the playoffs. This is what the Clippers should be focused on heading into the 2022-23 campaign. You get to play a lot of bad teams through the course of an NBA season. These Clippers are good enough to beat most teams in this league. Against the top four or five teams in the NBA is where stars and depth will be most important. If the Clippers can get through the season primarily healthy, there isn’t any reason they can’t be right back in the WCF. 



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David Moyes ‘extremely relieved’ with West Ham’s win over Wolves after seeing Bruno Lage sacked

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D

avid Moyes admitted he was “extremely relieved” at his West Ham side’s victory over Wolves on Saturday, having watched Bruno Lage lose his job in the aftermath of the result.

The Hammers picked up only their second Premier League victory of the season to move out of the relegation zone and are now looking to kick on when they face Anderlecht in the Europa Conference League tomorrow night.

Moyes has watched his side crawl out of the blocks in the League following a summer of significant overhaul, with eight new signings to bed in.

One report in the build-up to to the Wolves clash had suggested early pressure was beginning to build on the Hammers boss to arrest the alarming slump, but it was Lage who paid the price for his own team’s poor start as he was sacked by the Midlands club on Sunday.

“[I was] extremely relieved,” Moyes said. “Look what happened to the manager at Wolves, which was really unfortunate, and there was very little between our positions in the league.

“I’m not saying there’s no difference between my position at West Ham and his at Wolves, but certainly our league positions weren’t much different.

“But I think that’s what we’re seeing in football at the moment. An awful lot of changes. I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors at other clubs.

“At our club I’ve had great support from the owners, and everybody behind it. We think we’re trying to build something. Trying to make West Ham a consistent team in the Premier League. That isn’t an easy thing to do, but we’re trying to make a good fist of it.”

While the Hammers are only now showing signs of clicking into gear on the domestic front, in Europe, they have made a fine start with two wins from two group stage matches so far.

Victory in Belgium tomorrow would see Moyes’ side take a significant step towards sealing qualification for the knockout stage after Christmas and doing so early could afford the Scot the luxury of a dead-rubber amid the fixture pileup later in the campaign. Moyes, however, is taking nothing for granted.

“I wouldn’t in any way disrespect Anderlecht at all,” he added. “We’re away from home in Europe. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do to come away and get results. Anderlecht are a proud club. They’ll see the chance of beating us and getting ahead of us in the group.

“But we’re going to play each other twice very quickly, and at the moment both us and Anderlecht look like the team with the most points. That could change. But [this week] is important. We’d like to win the group if we could. But, as I said last year, if we qualify and we’ve got European football after Christmas, that will be a real bonus for us once again.”



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British Boxing Board of Control says Conor Benn and Chris Eubank Jnr cannot go ahead after failed drug test | Boxing News

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The British Boxing Board of Control has said the fight between Conor Benn and Chris Eubank Jnr cannot go ahead after Benn failed a drugs test.

Promoters Matchroom Boxing and Wasserman Boxing released a joint statement on Wednesday saying Saturday’s fight at the O2 in London would go ahead despite the fact Benn returned an “adverse analytical finding” for traces of a fertility drug.

But a statement from the board said: “On the evening of 4th October 2022, the Board of the British Boxing Board of Control Limited resolved that the contest between Chris Eubank Jnr. and Conor Benn scheduled to take place on 8th October 2022 is prohibited as it is not in the interests of Boxing. That was communicated to the Boxers and Promoters involved on the morning of 5th October 2022”

It remains unclear whether the fight will take place on Saturday.

A joint statement from Matchroom and Wasserman had earlier said: “We have been made aware that a random anti-doping test for Conor Benn conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association returned an adverse analytical finding for trace amounts of a fertility drug. The B sample has yet to be tested, meaning that no rule violation has been confirmed. Indeed, Mr Benn has not been charged with any rule violation, he is not suspended, and he remains free to fight.

“Mr. Benn has since passed a doping control test conducted by the UK Anti-Doping Agency, the anti-doping authority to which the British Board of Boxing Control has delegated its doping control testing for the bout. Mr Benn has passed all doping control tests conducted by UKAD.

“Both fighters have taken medical and legal advice, are aware of all relevant information, and wish to proceed with the bout this Saturday.”

Sky Sports News has contacted the British Boxing Board of Control.

Former two-weight world champion Carl Frampton criticised the decision to allow Benn to fight. He wrote on Twitter: “Boxing does itself no favours. There should be no grey areas. If you fail a test you’re banned and in my opinion you should be banned for life.”

The pair are due to face off almost 30 years since their fathers, Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank Sr, met in the rematch of their iconic rivalry

Eubank Jr has agreed to fight Benn at a catch weight of 157lbs, three pounds lighter than his last fight against Liam Williams in Cardiff earlier this year. The decision recently prompted father Eubank Jr to encourage people to boycott the fight amid concerns over safety.

Chris Eubank Jr (left) and Conor Benn
Image:
Chris Eubank Jr (left) and Conor Benn

Fight week media commitments were due to start on Wednesday with the two fighters set to take part in a live workout at a venue in central London.

The media workout was set to begin at 2pm with Benn predicted to enter the ring at 3.25pm and Eubank Jr to follow him 10 minutes later.





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