The Houston Texans have fined multiple players for COVID-19 violations after they attended the grand opening of a new restaurant franchise. Quarterback Deshaun Watson is a minority owner of the cheesesteak franchise Lefty's and hosted an event on Dec. 15. The NFL's coronavirus protocols prohibit more than three players from gathering for an event, but at least six players were on hand.
According to ESPN, some of the players in attendance were offensive linemen Tytus Howard, Roderick Johnson and Laremy Tunsil, as well as running back Duke Johnson. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks and defensive end Charles Omenihu were also on hand for the grand opening. ESPN reports that the Texans fined at least one player $5,000 for attending. Watson received a larger fine, $7,500, due to hosting the event.
Deshaun Watson @deshaunwatson event @charless_94 @KingTunsil78 @RodBeBalling @voltpt_ @AlexDWeb1 @brandincooks @DukeJohnson_8 @ChesterPitts @levelstothis_2 Willie D, Z-Ro, Watson's family and girlfriend @JillyAnais @eatleftys @NickScurfield @StickysChicken Ryan Lachaine, etc pic.twitter.com/yX74XCj2jS— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) December 15, 2020
Following the event, Watson faced questions about whether NFL protocols were being followed. "Yes, for sure," he responded. "I mean, we had the masks. We did everything that we were supposed to do. Six feet from different people. It was a restaurant opening. It wasn't really an event. It was a grand opening of my restaurant."
The NFL is currently investigating the event and the players that were spotted in the photos. There are questions about whether some of Watson's teammates were actually attending the grand opening or simply picking up some takeout food. The Texans could hand out more fines based on the results of the investigation.
Watson is not the only high-profile player to receive a fine for hosting an event amid the pandemic. Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller also hosted a charity dinner at Dragonridge Country Club in September. He and several teammates helped raise more than $300,000 to help young people dealing with drug and alcohol addiction but also violated the coronavirus guidelines.
When photos and videos surfaced from the event, the league responded with a large number of fines. Ten members of the team that attended the event received fines, including Waller, who received a $30,000 fine for hosting. Similarly, quarterback Derek Carr received a $15,000 fine for his role in the dinner. The Nevada OSHA also fined the country club $10,930 for an event that "did not comply with COVID-19 safety directives."