I should start with some personal qualifications. My official training is as a school counselor. I got my masters degree nearly 20 years ago in school counseling. Moments like these make me go back to my training. As a counselor, what did I hear when I heard the Deshaun Watson press conference live on Friday?
I suppose we should start with the fact that it was on a Friday. Friday is normally a news dump day. People don’t talk about these stories on the weekend. So, they have to wait until Monday and by the time Monday arrives, most people are talking about the stories that took place over the weekend. Why talk about Deshaun when we can talk about Will Smith punching Chris Rock?
That was the Browns way of protecting Deshaun. They will be doing that a lot over the next few years. We could start with the garden variety lying that happens at all of these press conferences. Deshaun said it was not about the money, and he didn’t know about the additional money until after he had picked the Browns. Sure. However, that kind of lie is par for the course. Then, he talked about how honest the Houston front office was, how both sides acknowledged they had different priorities, and that they were going in different directions. Sure.
Lying to the press and to the fanbase is one thing. Lying to yourself is something else. As a school counselor, I can do most of the same things that any counselor can do. I know when someone is lying to themselves. I know when someone is in trouble in terms of their mental health. What I can’t do is diagnose anyone. I couldn’t tell you if Deshaun has a sex addiction, if it is diagnosable, or if his behavior goes beyond that. After all, we don’t know all of the facts about his 22+ cases. More importantly, my one graduate level Psychopathology class doesn’t qualify me to diagnose anything.
He was asked directly if he felt like he needed counseling. He declined. According to him, he doesn’t have a problem. He didn’t assault anyone, disrespect anyone, or demean anyone. This is all comforting to hear until we realize two very important things.
First, he had just finished lying about his contract and how it impacted his decision to leave Houston for Cleveland. Second, more than 22 women would not characterize his behavior the same way that he did. At the very least, he has a credibility issue.
On a football level this doesn’t matter. Deshaun is not Houston’s problem anymore. We don’t have to sweat any more civil cases or grand juries. Tony Buzbee can say what he wants. Rusty Hardin can say what he wants. Houston will move on.
On a personal and human level though, this is really quite disturbing. When 22+ women accuse you of something it either means you did it, and are in complete denial or all of them are making it up, which means you were dumb enough to put yourself in a position to have 22+ women all tell the same lie and have it be believed. I’ll leave it to you to determine which one is more likely.
Deshaun was asked why he had so many different massage therapists. He only talked about the fact that this was over a multi-year period. Great. That doesn’t answer the question. It defies logic. It isn’t so much that he needed that many massages. Being a professional athlete has to be tough. It is the fact that he went to that many different massage therapists and as far as we know, they were all women. What are the odds that this is a coincidence?
The fact that so many of those instances turned sexual is extremely worrisome. Obviously, it is a pattern with him. That pattern obviously will get him in trouble with the people he loves, but also puts him into positions like this. He sees no problem with it. The fact that he sees no problem with it is the proof that he needs some help. Most of us are perceptive enough to see when people are lying to themselves.
This is where the whole idea of a character coach comes in. On its face, it is a great idea. When we become full functioning adults we realize that everyone is complex in nature. There is the face that we show the world and there is the face we have in private. A character coach can help make sure the second one doesn’t negatively impact the first one. He or she can help people like Deshaun understand how destructive their behavior can be.
The fact that he doesn’t see what’s wrong with what he did is the problem. If Houston’s character coach weren’t masquerading around as an executive vice president they might have been able to help. They might have opened Deshaun to see how destructive his behavior was, instead of being one of the reasons why he wanted to leave in the first place. For the Browns and Deshaun’s sake, I hope there is someone there that can reach him.
The football story of Deshaun in Houston had its closing chapter on Friday. The personal story of Deshaun the person might just be in its beginning stages.