NFL: Apparel giant Nike suspends deal with Deshaun Watson amid sexual assault allegations

Nike has suspended its endorsement contract with NFL star Deshaun Watson amid sexual assault and inappropriate conduct allegations against the Houston Texans quarterback.

"We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and have suspended Deshaun Watson," says Nike, the league's official apparel sponsor. "We will continue to closely monitor the situation." 

Headphone giant Beats by Dre ended its relationship with Watson earlier in the week.

Watson also has standing endorsement deals with Rolex, Texas-based grocery store chain H-E-B and Reliant Energy.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy says the league is continuing its investigation into Watson.

"The allegations are deeply disturbing and we take these issues very seriously," he says. "Immediately following news of the first allegations last month and as has been reported, we initiated an investigation under the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy.

"We are continuing to closely monitor all developments in the matter."

One of Watson's original accusers - massage therapist Ashley Solis - has tearfully told her story at a press conference arranged by Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, who is representing her and 21 other women who have filed lawsuits.

"I'm here to take back the power and take back control," Solis said. "I'm a survivor of assault and harassment."

Solis says Watson assaulted her at her home on March 30, 2020.

Watson, 25, has denied the accusations of the women, who allege he used massages as pretext to prey on them. 

In the lawsuits, he is accused of exposing his genitals to the women and forcing at least one to perform oral sex.

Watson agreed to a four-year, US$156 million contract extension last September and subsequently produced his third consecutive Pro Bowl season for the Texans, but requested a trade in January.

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