Beats by Dre is the latest brand to distance itself from Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson amid more than 20 allegations of sexual assault and inappropriate conduct.
A source with knowledge of Watson’s deal with Apple-owned Beats by Dre told Front Office Sports on Wednesday that the brand was “parting ways” with Watson, and there were plans to end the relationship before the first of allegations were made public in March.
Earlier Wednesday, Nike announced it had suspended its sponsorship deal with Watson.
“We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and have suspended Deshaun Watson,” Nike said in a statement to Front Office Sports and other outlets. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
Reliant Energy, in a statement to The Athletic, said it has “no plans for future engagements or contracts with” Watson. Watson’s brand ambassador contract with Reliant Energy is set to expire this spring.
Wednesday’s moves by Nike and Beats by Dre came a day after one of 22 women who have filed lawsuits in recent weeks against Watson spoke at a news conference. Ashley Solis, fighting off tears, told reporters that her career as a massage therapist had been “forever tainted” by her session with Watson in her home in March 2020 — allegations made in the first Jane Doe lawsuit filed against Watson in Harris County, Texas.
“I replay the incident over and over in my head as if I’m trying to wake up from some horrible nightmare,” Solis said on Tuesday. “Only that nightmare is real.”
Watson has denied any wrongdoing.
In the lawsuit, Solis alleged that Watson requested “her focus to be on his groin area.”
Watson’s legal team, led by high-profile attorney Rustin Hardin, released emails between Watson’s reps and Solis’ attorneys at the Buzbee Law Firm exchanged before the lawsuit was filed on March 16.
“We did not think that the facts showed that Deshaun did anything wrong with their client,” said Scott Gaffield, an attorney for Watson’s sports agency, Athletes First. “We believed then – and fully believe now – that Deshaun learned a lesson about putting himself in this type of situation by interacting with people he does not know. As the emails show, we were willing to continue discussions on Deshaun’s behalf to explore ways to prevent a lawsuit and a public spectacle. But Mr. (Tony) Buzbee informed us that he was unwilling to do so. We expect that this matter will be resolved in court.”
Solis and one other woman have filed reports with the Houston police, according to Buzbee. The Houston Police Department said on Friday that it had launched an investigation into Watson after one person filed a report with the agency.
The NFL announced in March that it’s conducting an investigation into whether Watson violated the league’s personal conduct policy. In a statement on Tuesday, the NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy called Solis’ allegations “disturbing and we take these issues very seriously.”
“We are continuing to closely monitor all developments in the matter,” McCarthy said.
Buzbee said at a news conference on March 19 that he’d been in contact with NFL investigators, something a league source confirmed to Front Office Sports.