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The Deshaun Watson Situation

Deshaun Watson (Photo by KA Sports Photos)

On March 18, the Houston Texans agreed to trade superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns in one of the most complex trades in NFL history. The Browns then handed Watson a fully guaranteed five-year $230 million dollar contract, now the largest guaranteed contract in the NFL.

Typically, that is where the story would end. This is not a typical story, however.

Watson is facing accusations of sexual misconduct from 22 women, all massage therapists, with two of the allegations also accusing Watson of sexual assault. The allegations against Watson are extremely graphic. However, a grand jury in Harris County, Texas, did not see enough evidence to indict Watson on any charges filed against him. The cases were all moved to civil court, where they currently stand.

As a Browns fan, it is incredibly difficult to move forward in this situation.

In criminal court, the grand jury decided there was not enough tangible evidence to charge him. Unfortunately, this happens in the vast majority of sexual assault cases in the United States, 975 out of 1,000 perpetrators will walk free, according to The verdict usually comes down to a “he said vs. she said” situation.

Watson is a superstar on the field. This much is beyond true. Watson is only 26 years old, but he has already been selected to three Pro Bowls, led the NFL in pass yardage in 2020, and guided Clemson to the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship. He is a dynamic talent when he steps onto the football field.

FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio (photo by heather0714)

The Browns have needed a quarterback since the dawn of time. They became a laughingstock around the NFL as lost seasons piled up due to their inability to secure a true star at the position, among other factors. Without question, this trade drastically changes the Browns’ future on the field.

The NFL has a history of looking past off-the-field issues when a player is talented enough to warrant it, but the allegations Watson is facing cross whatever line is left when it comes to the morality of the NFL. As Sports Illustrated reports, nearly half of the franchises in the NFL inquired about Watson. The Browns did not act alone.

The Browns owners and front office claim that they tirelessly researched Watson’s legal situation and feel comfortable enough with it to acquire him. I am inclined to believe them because I believe in the character of the men and women running the franchise. They have done tremendous work in the past few years, both on the field and in their front office, which recently received recognition from the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which “honors NFL teams that embody workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Despite that, I still get an uncomfortable feeling when I think about the future of the franchise.

Watson may well lead the Browns to a Super Bowl. If he does, there is a good chance he will be revered in a city with a fanbase that so desperately wants and deserves hope. However, a Super Bowl will not erase the damage done to the women involved in his case.

Browns fans root for the name on the front of the jersey and not the back. The franchise will still stand when Watson is gone, and so will I as a fan. The impact he makes as a player and, more importantly, as a person in the next few years will go a long way towards determining the legacy of this trade.

I cannot tell others how to feel about the trade, nor can anyone say if Watson is guilty or not in the name of the law. I can only say how I feel and contribute my stance to the court of public opinion.

However, one thing is abundantly clear now more than ever; The NFL, once again, is guilty of sacrificing its morality for the chance at a trophy, and in the end, this is unlikely to ever change.

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The Deshaun Watson Situation