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BRB GroupThink: The Deshaun Watson Situation

How do you think it plays out?

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Deshaun Watson has been sued by 22 women. This week, two of his accusers have publicly spoken out against him, putting a face and name to the allegations, Sam Darnold was traded to Carolina, ostensibly removing two teams from the Watson trade talk. Nike, Reliant, and Beats all dropped their endorsement deals with him.

How do you think this plays out? Does this open the door for Watson to play for the Texans again?These were the questions I asked the masthead. These are our responses:

MATT WESTON:

Since this is a civil case, not a criminal case (yet), the plaintiff only needs to prove by a preponderance of evidence that Deshaun Watson is liable for sexual misconduct when receiving massages. 22 allegations. The testimony provided by the women who worked with Watson. Companies dropping their endorsements. Instagram direct messages. The only things Watson has shown so far are (1) testimony from a few therapists that their massages were completely normal, which has nothing to do with what the other victims could have gone through and (2) that settlement money was requested prior to the first case being filed. In my opinion, signs point to Watson losing a civil case right now.

This has nothing to do with the NFL’s investigation. The NFL has no laws to follow, or checks and balances; whatever Roger Goodell says goes. He’s the executioner. Whatever Goodell deems as reasonable punishment goes. Eight games. Twelve games. One year. It all depends on the weather.

For these reasons, I see Watson settling out of court before a civil case truly gets underway. I see the NFL suspending Watson for a minimum of eight games. Because of the number of accusers, it could be for the entire season.

This opens the door for Watson to remain in Houston. Before the sexual assault allegations, before his trade value plummeted, before other teams looked elsewhere, Houston would have been be better off keeping him. They still would now. At the very least, this pushes a potential trade to next offseason. It doesn’t make sense for Houston, a bad rebuilding football team, to trade Watson now. There is always a team who will want the player of Watson’s caliber, regardless of his off-field actions.

My guess is Watson pays out of court, gets suspended for at least half the 2021 season, doesn’t play in Houston again, and he’s traded next offseason, which opens the door for Philadelphia and Miami to utilize their multiple first round selections to add him.

The end result is the same. The time table just changes.

BIGFATDRUNK:

Anybody who thinks they know precisely what will happen is a lying liar that lies. So, here’s my hawtest of taeks.

At this point, I believe that Deshaun Watson is suspended for the first eight (8) weeks of the 2021 season. After that, he takes over at QB for Colt McCoy, who had to take over the position for an injured Tyrod Taylor. Watson plays solid but mediocre ball, clearly shaking off the rust and playing with a dumpster dive of a roster the rest of the way.

In the 2022 offseason, Nick Caserio trades Watson for a couple second round picks, and the homer fanbase will praise Jack Easterby for figuring out what we had in Watson from the get-go.

The Texans will continue to be a very, very stupid organization.

RIVERS McCOWN:

I think the door has only ever been closed from one side. The Texans never wanted to trade him. It’s all up to what Watson believes is the best path for his future.

L4BLITZER:

This is just an ugly situation that is getting uglier all the time. Makes you long for the good old days of the 2020 regular season, when the on-field ineptitude could at least offer some respite from the off-field drama. Unfortunately, I don’t see a quick end to this mess.

Before yesterday, I didn’t think there was much a chance Watson would willingly come back to the Texans. However, he just lost a big source of cash flow with the various companies either suspending and/or dropping him as a sponsor. The principled stand against playing for the Texans and taking the financial hit of no salary/fines is a lot easier when there are other streams of income out there to mitigate the losses. With that gone, and the legal bills adding up, Watson may not be real happy about coming back to play for the Texans, but his bank account may tell him otherwise. The trade market will most likely remain dead, pending action from the NFL and/or the legal system.

As for the projected NFL punishment, that may be coming, but right now, there is not massive pressure to act. The NFL took its sweet time with Antonio Brown, and I would expect the same here. What will a suspension look like? Well, not great for Watson’s stat line/bank account. If a fraction of these allegations are proven true, even in civil court, eight games would be a best case for Watson. I don’t know if the NFL will act before the 2021 offseason, unless the sports punditry press the issue. The standoff may yet continue between Watson and the McEasterbys coming into the 2021 preseason, but the advantage has shifted to the latter.

MIKE BULLOCK:

Unlike so many people on the intranetz who want to play judge, jury, and executioner in the court of public opinion, I’m withholding judgment until all the facts are out. Right now, this has really been very one-sided, with an attorney whose moral standing has been publicly questioned multiple times, a group of women who are making extremely troubling accusations, and the torch and pitchfork crowd fanning the flames.

On the other side, we’ve seen Watson deny it all and claim the allegations are some sort of cash grab/career move for Buzbee and those he represents based on a litany of alleged conspiratorial agendas and heard from an almost equal number of women who side with Deshaun. Watson’s side has far less grandstanding. It’s hard to take an attorney seriously who appears to want to make a circus out of very serious matters as Buzbee seems to be striving to do. But an attorney’s used car salesman antics don’t mean Deshaun is innocent.

At this point, it’s still too early in the discovery of just what actually happened to draw an educated conclusion about these events. Everyone really needs to read Steph Stradley’s FAQ on this and follow her advice to refrain from passing judgment until all the facts are out in the open.

If Watson did these things, he needs to be kicked out of the NFL – permanently. If he’s guilty of sexual assault, he needs to go to jail - it’s one of the most heinous crimes anyone can commit; if he did it, he deserves the full punishment due. That includes never again playing in the NFL or benefiting personally from the cash cow that is professional sports. The NFL, and most professional sports or other organizations dealing in billions of dollars annually, has been historically lax on punishing players/personnel who participate in crimes against women. It’s totally reprehensible, but history speaks for itself.

Sexual assault, sex trafficking, and these sorts of behaviors shouldn’t exist in our society and the people who commit/enable them should be kicked off the planet. According to a U.S. government website that tracks such things, an estimated 600,000-800,000 women and children are sex trafficked each year. That’s horrific. I’s directly tied to the alleged behavior exhibited by the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Robert Kraft, and many other high profile NFL personalities. That includes the kind of behavior Watson is accused of as well.

Alternatively, if Watson didn’t do these things, he needs swift and total exoneration. Unfortunately, I know far too many women who have endured sexual assault—it forever alters the course of their lives for the worse. One woman actually told me she would have preferred it if her rapist had just killed her. I’ve also known people wrongfully accused of the crime. One guy lost his job, only to have the company learn the accuser was wrong, but they wouldn’t rehire him because they ‘felt it sends the wrong message’ whatever that means. Both groups are victims; neither behavior is okay, and it should notbe tolerated by our society. Both are tolerated, however, in many dark, fetid corners of humanity.

In Scenario 1, the Houston Texans need to divest themselves of Deshaun Watson as soon as they’re made aware of the findings.

In Scenario 2, we’re back at square one, where Watson doesn’t want to play for the Texans. All this might change how he feels, depending on how the McNairs treat him as this all plays out.

In the end, I just don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t want to rush to judgment simply to do so.