Monday’s NFL: Coach Crennel retires after almost 40 years; Watson named in 24th lawsuit

Kristie Rieken
AP Sports Writer

Houston – Romeo Crennel announced his retirement Monday, ending a 39-year NFL coaching career highlighted by five Super Bowl titles.

Crennel, spent the past eight seasons with the Houston Texans. He was the team’s defensive coordinator from 2014-16 and assistant head coach from 2017-19. In 2020 he was the associate head coach before becoming the interim head coach following coach Bill O’Brien firing after just four games.

Romeo Crennel

Crennel, who will turn 75 on June 18, worked as Houston’s senior adviser for football performance last season.

He spent 11 years as a college coach before beginning his NFL career as an assistant with the New York Giants in 1981.

“Football has been my entire life and it’s been a dream come true to coach for 50 years,” Crennel said in a statement. “I’ll miss everything about coaching and teaching, but the thing I’ll miss the most is being around the guys every day. My goal was to put every player and coach in the best position to succeed and I consider every guy I coached or worked with a part of my family.”

Crennel reached the playoffs 17 times in his career, winning 13 division titles, six conference crowns and winning two Super Bowls with the Giants and three with the Patriots.

“His incredible resume and contributions to the game of football will be difficult to duplicate,” Texans owner Cal McNair said.

“Romeo poured everything he had into his players and led his teams with hard work, diligence and integrity. He has impacted and influenced so many players, coaches and staff members over the last five decades and we’re honored he spent the last eight seasons with us. Our organization is better because of Romeo Crennel in so many ways.”

Crennel was the defensive coordinator for the Patriots from 2001-04. He was selected as the Pro Football Writers of America NFL Assistant Coach of the Year after the 2003 season when he headed a defense that allowed an NFL-low 14.9 points a game.

Crennel’s first head coaching job came with the Cleveland Browns and he was with them from 2005-08. His best season as a head coach came with the Browns in 2007 when they went 10-6.

He joined the Kansas City Chiefs in 2010 as defensive coordinator and became their interim coach for the last three games of the 2011 season. He was hired as the head coach of the Chiefs in 2012, but was fired after just one season in which the team was 2-14.

When Crennel was promoted to interim head coach with the Texans in 2020 at 73, he became the oldest person in NFL history to serve as a head coach in a game. It was a record previously held by former Hall of Famer George Halas with the Chicago Bears.

Crennel went 4-8 that season.

Browns’ Watson named in 24th lawsuit by massage therapists

Houston – A 24th woman filed a civil lawsuit Monday alleging sexual misconduct by Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is also awaiting possible discipline from the NFL.

The latest lawsuit was filed in Houston by attorney Tony Buzbee, who is representing all 24 women.

“Lost in the media frenzy surrounding Deshaun Watson is that these are twenty-four strong, courageous women who, despite ridicule, legal shenanigans, and intense media scrutiny, continue to stand firm for what is right,” Buzbee said in a statement.

Watson has been accused by massage therapists of harassing, assaulting or touching them during appointments when he was with the Houston Texans.

The latest lawsuit makes similar allegations as the woman, a massage therapist, accuses Watson of assaulting and harassing her during an August 2020 session in her apartment. The woman alleges that during the massage session, Watson exposed himself and masturbated and “offered no apology or explanation for his conduct.”

The woman has quit being a massage therapist because of what happened to her and now suffers from depression and anxiety, according to the lawsuit.

Rusty Hardin, Watson’s lead attorney, said he could not immediately comment on the latest lawsuit.

“Our legal team has not had time to investigate this new filing and had not heard her name until today. Deshaun continues to deny he did anything inappropriate with any of the plaintiffs,” Hardin said in a statement Monday.

Hardin has previously said Watson had consensual sexual activity with three of the women and did not force any of his accusers to have sexual contact.

The first 22 lawsuits were filed in March and April of 2021, with the latest two being filed since two of the women detailed encounters with Watson while being interviewed on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”

As the 24th lawsuit was being formally announced, Watson took part in the Browns’ charity golf outing in Rocky River, Ohio. Watson did not speak to the media.

Before Watson arrived at Westwood Country Club, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski was asked if the latest lawsuit causes the organization to revisit with the quarterback about his legal situation.

“With that, we’re trying to just be respectful of the process and let that take care of it,” Stefanski said.

Two separate Texas grand juries in March declined to indict Watson on criminal complaints stemming from the allegations.

But Watson could still be suspended if the NFL determines he violated the league’s personal conduct policy. The three-time Pro Bowler has been interviewed by league investigators, who will present their findings to disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson. Commissioner Roger Goodell said last month the investigation was nearing a conclusion.

League spokesman Brian McCarthy said there was no update on the investigation or any timeline.

“We will decline comment as the matter remains under review,” he said in an email to The Associated Press.

Watson has maintained his innocence, saying any sexual activity was consensual.

At his introductory news conference with the Browns in March, Watson denied any wrongdoing. “I’ve never assaulted or disrespected or harassed any woman in my life,” Watson said. “I’ve never done these things people are alleging.”

Stefanski said Monday the team is prepared to handle whatever the league decides.

“I think all along we’re just going to take those things day-by-day and when we have information, then we’ll act on said information,” he said.

Watson was traded from the Texans to Cleveland in March and then signed a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract with his new team despite his ongoing legal problems.

Cleveland signed veteran quarterback Jacoby Brissett to back up Watson. Baker Mayfield remains on the team, but the Browns are looking to trade the No. 1 overall pick in 2018.

Watson has been participating in the Browns’ offseason team activities, which will continue this week. The team has a mandatory minicamp scheduled from June 14-16.|

Denver Broncos sale could come as early as this month

Englewood, Colo. – The Denver Broncos could have a new owner as soon as this month in what’s expected to be the most expensive deal in sports history at around $4.5 billion.

A second round of bids for the franchise was due Monday from prospective buyers.

The Pat Bowlen Trust will have to accept the winning bid, and NFL owners will need to approve the sale, likely in July, of the team that’s been in the Bowlen family for nearly four decades.

The Broncos’ price tag is expected to surpass the $3.1 billion sale last month of Chelsea F.C., one of European soccer’s blue ribbon teams, to an American-led consortium fronted by Los Angeles Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly.

Boehly reportedly was among the investors with one of the five finalists who were invited to make bids for the Broncos by Monday’s deadline. Another is Walmart heir Rob Walton, who is considered the odds-on favorite because of his estimated $60 billion in personal wealth.

First-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett demurred when asked Monday during offseason workouts if he’s kept up with the sale process that could conclude by month’s end.

“My job is to get the team ready and teach systems and teach them to come together as a team and get them better at football,” Hackett said. “I know that’s obviously a huge, huge deal. But for us it’s about winning no matter who is going to own the team, so I’m excited.”

After a first round of bids, finalists were invited to tour the team’s facilities and take a deeper dive into the franchise’s finances. Hackett said he met with most of the billionaire bidders.

“After talking with everybody, I think they all have an amazing passion and want to be part of this league, and they want to be part of a team – and I think that’s something that’s really beautiful,” Hackett said.

“They want to come to win, and they want to do something great here. And so wherever it is, I think we’re going to be very grateful.”

The Pat Bowlen Trust has run the franchise for several years and last year put the club up for sale after Hall of Famer Pat Bowlen’s children couldn’t concur on a successor to their father.

Bowlen died in 2019 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s, a month shy of his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.