Deshaun Watson Trade to Browns Sparks Surge in Donations to Cleveland Rape Crisis Center

While Watson will not face criminal charges, 22 civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault and harassment are still active

Deshaun Watson at NRG Stadium in December 2020 in Houston. After Watson was traded by the Texans to the Cleveland Browns, the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center reported a surge in donations.
Deshaun Watson at NRG Stadium in December 2020 in Houston.
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Friday afternoon’s blockbuster trade of former Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson to the Browns has had an unexpected result in Cleveland.

Donations to the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center (CRCC) have been pouring in since the deal was announced because Watson, who was not indicted on criminal charges, has 22 outstanding civil lawsuits from women accusing him of sexual assault and harassment.

Following Friday’s trade, the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center released the following statement: “We understand the story surrounding DeShaun Watson joining the Cleveland Browns team is triggering for far too many of our friends and neighbors. For those who need additional support, please know Cleveland Rape Crisis Center is available to you 24/7/365. To the community we say, we see you. We hear your outrage. We feel it too. Every click. Every post and every tweet. Every donation sends a clear message.”

Since the trade, the center has received more than 1,650 donations. “We’ve had survivors say, ‘I’ve been a lifelong Browns fans, my family are Browns fans, but I’m also a survivor and I am absolutely outraged by the decision,’” CRCC Director of Community Engagement Donisha Greene told Crain’s. “They’ve said, ‘I’m donating the cost of a season pass or here’s $22 for the 22 women whose voice is silenced.’ Browns fans feel torn. They feel like, if I can hang out and get down with you for years of losing seasons, this is the moment I have to take a stand. It’s a big deal.”

The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network also reported a surge in online donations after the Watson trade news broke on Friday.

Some fans are likely outraged by the way the Browns structured the massive extension Watson received after he was traded to Cleveland as it factors in the possibility the 26-year-old may miss time this year due to his off-field issues. Signed for five years for $230 million guaranteed, setting a record for the highest guarantee ever given to an NFL player, Watson is only slated for a $1.035 million base salary in 2022, which will limit the financial impact on his wallet from a possible multi-game suspension from the NFL.

“What is also reprehensible is the fact that Watson’s signing bonus is a reported $45 million, while his first-year salary is a relatively puny $1.035 million, which becomes significant if he gets suspended, as is widely expected,” writes longtime NFL scribe Peter King. “The suspension and resulting fine would come out of his salary only. Say the NFL bans him for six games. The fine would be $345,000, which is seven-tenths of 1% of his 2022 compensation. It’s hard to be more outraged about this story, but that last paragraph makes me want to spit nails.”

It’s fairly obvious at this point that King is not alone and Watson and the Browns are going to need to do something substantial to smooth over the rough feelings or be prepared to handle the consequences.

Win the Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix Experience

Want the F1 experience of a lifetime? Here’s your chance to win tickets to see Turn 18 Grandstand, one of Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix’s most premier grandstands!