You’re going to hear a lot of numbers regarding Deshaun Watson’s move to Cleveland. There’s the five-year, $230 million contract restructuring he’ll get from the Browns. There are the first-round picks Cleveland will give the Texans in trade — three, as well as third- and fourth-round picks for Watson and a fifth-round pick. There are all the stats regarding the quality of Cleveland’s offense with Watson versus Baker Mayfield, who will obviously be traded to another team, sooner rather than later.
But the number you need to remember here is 22. That’s the number of women who filed civil lawsuits against Watson, alleging sexual assault and harassment. Watson is now past the criminal phase of those charges, but he’s by no means off the hook with the NFL, who will no doubt negotiate an internal deal in which they make an ‘example’ of Watson with some kind of suspension. , and touts this trade as part of the free agency of the Grand Théâtre.
What this trade tells us is what we already knew – Deshaun Watson is a very talented quarterback, and because of that, anything he does off the field will be downplayed and ignored by the league to a greater degree. or less – to whatever degree the league finds practical at any given time.
One of the women who filed a civil lawsuit against Watson, a freelance makeup artist whom Watson asked for a massage via direct messages on Instagram and then allegedly involved her in sexual behavior, said Watson coerced her” against her will and left her powerless”.
There are a lot of them going around right now. 22 women, now seeing the alleged object of their traumas and nightmares, secure the bag like few athletes have ever done before.
The excitement over Watson to the domain is perfectly understandable. In 2020, he’s had an amazing season despite a dumpster fire around him, and as long as he’s able to put that level of talent on the field, even in an AFC more stacked than ever, the Browns have just come from to move out. of contenders at CONTENDERS.
Even one of the greatest athletes we’ve ever seen wasn’t immune to that excitement when it came to his home team.
🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾. YES SIR!!!!! #LFG 🐶🐶🐶 https://t.co/DXirS6DZ6f
— LeBron James (@KingJames) March 18, 2022
“YESIR” and “#LFG?” Sure. There will be all kinds of things going around.
But the revulsion that many were prepared to feel towards the team that ultimately made this trade is just as justified, and a bit more. We are told once again that as long as an athlete can perform at an elite level, compartmentalizing any horrible off-court behavior will be the order of the day.
That Watson was able to decide his next destination via his no-trade clause, after allegedly denying so many women that same ability to consent, is the most twisted irony of all.
Another twisted irony? Upon leaving Mayfield, the Browns reportedly said they wanted “an adult” at quarterback.
But as tends to be the case, teams in all sports can settle for talent over maturity when it comes to a split deal.
About a week ago, the NFL held its sixth Women’s Football Career Forum. Dee Haslam, Browns managing partner and senior partner and wife of team owner Jimmy Haslam, and Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski were part of the event. No doubt the Browns will tout that turnout as part of their commitment to diversity and ensuring everyone has opportunities.
Expect to see more. Expect the Browns to try to sell as many pink jerseys as possible along the way.
This is not a specific indictment against the Cleveland Browns. Several teams participated in the Watson contest, and it was simply the Browns who won. The problem is more global than local, and it’s not even so much about Deshaun Watson as it is about the sad truth that everything Watson did to these women will be more and more forgotten with every touchdown pass and every play. spectacular.
Deshaun Watson won’t be the first superstar to benefit, and he won’t be the last. That the NFL doesn’t find out is the saddest part of the whole exercise.