Lahius Leverette, a childhood friend and former Gainesville High teammate of Deshaun Watson, maintains the Cleveland Brown quarterback did nothing wrong.
Watson recently settled 20 of the 24 civil lawsuits that had been filed by women who accused him of sexual assault and harassment.
Leverette, who speaks or texts with Watson on a daily basis, questions why the women never went to the police.
“If Deshaun did something wrong, they (massage therapists) would have gone to the police right away,” said Leverette.
“I’m always checking in on him (Watson) to see how he’s holding up.”
Watson, who has been accused by massage therapists of harassing, assaulting or touching them during appointments when he was playing for the Houston Texans, could still be suspended if the NFL determines he violated the league’s personal conduct policy.
Two separate grand juries declined to file charges earlier this year against him on the sexual assault complaints.
Other locals who grew up with Watson said they still support the star.
Michael Perry, his former quarterback coach at Gainesville High, said he plans on
traveling with his twin brother, Tyler, to visit Watson at Browns training camp soon.
“I love and stand by Deshaun, just like always” said Perry, who still lives in Gainesville, but is now head coach at Union County. “I know he’s a great guy and I can’t wait for him to get back on the field.”
In March, he signed a guaranteed $230 million contract over five years with the Browns, the most guaranteed money in league history.
The record-setting quarterback for the Red Elephants still faces four civil lawsuits.
In his first public comments since being introduced by the Browns, Watson said June 14
he never assaulted anyone.
“I never harassed anyone or I never disrespected anyone. I never forced anyone to do anything,” he said.
Perry said the lack of support for Watson by sports radio personalities in the Atlanta area has been the most bothersome.
Before the trade to Cleveland, the Falcons were in negotiations for signing Watson.
“I’m curious if Deshaun had chosen to play in Atlanta if their reaction toward him would be different,” Perry said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.