Deshaun Watson: What It All Means

May 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) walks off the field during organized team activities at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

In 2017, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair told tother NFL owners that they “can’t have the inmates running the prison.” Since that day it’s always disturbed me that the Texans have run their franchise, well, like a prison. On the surface, they seem like a model team. However, what’s done in the dark will soon come to light. We’ve learned this Summer that numerous things have gone unchecked and much to the surprise of no one, their star quarterback has been able to do what he wanted as long as he performed and abided by the guardrails the team had in place.

All of that came crashing down late last year when Deshaun Watson decided he wanted out of Houston. Watson‘s demands weren’t received warmly and shortly after that, we heard news of several lawsuits related to sexual assault and harassment. In the depths of my mind, I wondered, “why did we just now hear about this?” For all we know, Watson has been a model citizen with no issues whatsoever up until this point. How did this information come to light?

It’s because the Texans built a culture that enabled it. Everything from NDAs to hotel rooms to whatever Watson needed and wanted. It was all fine as long as he stuck to his end of the bargain. Of course, we know how the story goes: Watson eventually forced his way out of Houston and into the desperation of the Cleveland Browns.

And while the Browns fawned over Watson and offered the keys to the kingdom, they alienated their fanbase, particularly women. From the way that they structured Watson’s contract to the way they trotted him out there at a press conference and swore they had done their homework, they told every woman that might ever root for them, or be a fan of the NFL, that what happened to them “wasn’t that big of a deal.” As Watson’s lawyer put it this week, “a happy ending wasn’t illegal as long as no money was exchanged”…anything to shift the blame away from Watson and his teams and onto the women who he preyed upon. As a woman and mom of two boys, as a fan of the NFL, I’m completely disgusted.

Somewhere, The NFL and Deshaun Watson decided that talent was better than integrity. Talent was better than morals. Talent was better than the truth because there are seats to fill. And talent, mattered more than these women. You see, the pattern was created by Deshaun Watson, enabled by the Houston Texans and perpetuated by the Cleveland Browns. The value they associated with talent was worth far more than a woman.

So, I ask: what is the worth of a woman to the NFL?

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