After the Browns traded for quarterback Deshaun Watson on Friday, football fans angered about the deal flooded the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center with donations.
CRCC, an organization that supports survivors of rape and sexual abuse, has reported a large number of donations in the days since the Browns acquired and gave a lucrative contract to Watson, who has been accused by nearly two dozen women of sexual assault and sexual misconduct.
Donisha Greene, CRCC’s director of community engagement, told Crain’s Cleveland Business that the center has received more than 1,650 donations. Many of the donations are $22 — the same number of women who have accused Watson.
“We’ve had survivors say, ‘I’ve been a lifelong Browns fan, my family are Browns fans, but I’m also a survivor and I am absolutely outraged by the decision,’” 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.”
She added that it’s not just Browns fans sending donations, as people from around the country, especially the Bills Mafia — a philanthropic-focused group of Buffalo fans — are also giving money.
The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network has also reported an increase in online donations since the trade.
Watson is facing civil suits from the 22 women after a Texas grand jury earlier this month declined to indict the 26-year-old on criminal charges. Watson and his lawyers have denied the allegations.
He sat out the 2021 season but was still paid by the Texans. Watson, considered one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL, netted Houston three first-round draft picks despite the controversy surrounding him and a potential suspension from the NFL. Following the trade, the Browns signed him to a record-breaking five-year, $230 million contract that is fully guaranteed.
The Browns’ owners, general manager and coach released statements on Sunday, claiming they conducted “extensive” research into Watson and the claims prior to trading for him. Fans then criticized the team after news broke that the team did not question the attorney for the women accusing Watson.