Deshaun WatsonPhoto: Getty Images
It had to happen sometime during yesterday’s game.
There is no way the Cleveland Browns can attend a nationally televised game without discussing Deshaun Watson’s allegations of sexual assault. While Monday Night Football isn’t a newscast, it would have been irresponsible for ESPN to air the Browns, their fans, and even Brownie the Elf without addressing the team’s – at best – morally questionable decision to trade for Watson.
The Browns were comfortably leading 25-6 with just under 10.5 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when the production team decided this was the perfect time for Joe Buck to throw it to Lisa Salters for Watson’s return to the Browns to discuss.
A graph showed an extremely condensed timeline of the results of what has happened to Watson’s game status since he was off the field last season. Salters said Watson would be allowed back into the Browns’ facility but not join his teammates on the practice field. Also, he’s on track to play Week 13.
Buck then jumped in again, saying Watson was accused of sexual misconduct during massage sessions and 23 of the 26 lawsuits against him were settled out of court before asking Troy Aikman, “What is it [Watson] Will it look like you’re coming back from the game after two years?
Aikman spoke for about six seconds before a 53-yard bomb from Jacoby Brissett at Amari Cooper ended all talk of Watson for the evening.
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Hopefully this moment doesn’t herald what media coverage will be for Watson when he likely returns to the field on December 4, against his former team — the Houston Texans — in the city where much of his alleged misconduct took place. Watson continues to deny any wrongdoing. A big play, maybe a few, had better not end the conversation about Watson’s behavior.
Watson is not in jail and once he has served the sentence the league gave him there is no longer any reason to keep him off the field. That being said, the allegations, as well as the instances where the NFL’s investigation concluded Watson was at fault, shouldn’t be addressed for just a minute or two when he lines up behind center for the Browns.
Watson still has three sexual misconduct lawsuits pending, and these certainly need to be mentioned every time someone talks about him. Just because he’s not being prosecuted doesn’t mean he’s been exonerated. It definitely wasn’t him.
Also, the media cannot fade Watson’s situation when it comes time for the playoff chase because the Browns must not be allowed to resume business as usual after condoning and encouraging his behavior.
They did this by giving him an unprecedented contract that allowed him to lose as little money as possible during a potential suspension, rocking the quarterback market, guaranteeing him $230 million, and finally rewarding him for his “devotion.” working on yourself, both on and off the field,” in a statement following the 11-game suspension, which was completed in the weeks following the NFL investigation. This investigation found that Watson had grotesquely violated the league’s policy of conduct.
That fact must not run away with a Browns pass catcher when Watson drops a pass in one of their arms for a big game.