By Joshua Foster-Storch
Many cases have set a precedent before these Adrian Peterson, Jonathan Dwyer, Greg Hardy, Josh Brown, Ezekiel Elliot, and Tyreek Hill cases. All of these men have been through the gauntlet as it pertains to assault charges – honest men and more horrible human beings that have inflicted abuse upon either their spouse or child.
Texans Quarter Back Deshaun Watson is the latest NFL player in the last few years to be accused of sexual assault. As of Wednesday, March 30, the list of lawsuits has expanded to 16, with 24 women who claim to be licensed massage therapists in total accusing Watson of sexual assault.
Since the first woman came forward on Tuesday, March 16, 23 others have come forward, accusing Watson in one lawsuit of “Being a serial predator.” That was much information to unpack in just 133 words, but something is off about this situation. Could Watson, known for being a genuinely upstanding citizen since the Texans drafted him in 2017, really be all the things these women say he is?
For those who haven’t followed the Deshaun Watson drama this NFL offseason, it may seem like a very cut and dry situation. But for the who have been following the case, the timing appears conspicuous.
Watson, who signed a four-year, $156 million contract with the Texans before this past season, requested a trade amid complete turmoil in Houston since the end of the 2019 season. After winning their division and a first-round playoff game against the Buffalo Bills, the Texans inexplicably traded away DeAndre Hopkins, one of the Texans’ best players.
This action stymied the Texans’ offense as both sides of the ball fell apart in 2020, leading to an abysmal 4-12 2020 season. The Texans only added gasoline on the fire when they refused to consult Watson on any off-season hires under control of new head coach David Culley and general manager Nick Caserio. Watson then cut off all communications with the Texans and demanded to be traded in late January.
On the other side of this, current Houston Texans owner Janice McNair and her son, chairman and CEO of the Texans, Cal McNair, assumed the Texans’ principal ownership when her husband, Bob McNair, passed away in 2018.
The McNair family has built a highly dysfunctional and racially insensitive ownership group and reflects in their hires and players’ treatment. First was when Bob McNair criticized his players during the anthem protests in 2017 and referred to them as “… inmates running the prison”. Although apologized for, Cal later doubled down on.
There was also the hire of Bill O’Brien, who likened DeAndre Hopkins to Aaron Hernandez, a former player who played under O’Brien when he was with the Patriots and was a convicted murderer before his highly publicized suicide in 2017. The Texans ownership has made strides to ensure that their players are uncomfortable around their superiors, especially ownership itself.
So what does this all have to do with the assault charges? Well, people think that it is a bit conspicuous that all of these women speak out in a class action lawsuit against Watson right in the middle of a highly publicized dispute with ownership. Is Watson innocent? Or have the Texans been sweeping this under the rug for Watson?
Right now, I would say that these women have power in numbers, and the situation dictates guilty until proven innocent. These women should be heard in court, and we must not discredit them.
The flipside of this, however, is that some semblance of proof must be provided by lawyers Tony Buzbee and Rusty Hardin, representing the women and Watson, respectively. Buzbee, who stated that he would give proof of these allegations on Sunday, March 21, must submit irrefutable evidence on behalf of these women.
Many of these lawsuits state that Watson directly messaged them on Instagram and provided payment beforehand. These messages and costs must be seen to determine whether or not Watson is genuinely what his clients say he is. For Hardin, he has his work cut out for him, but there may be hope for his side as he stated that the first lawsuit against Watson might be fabricated as he accused the accuser of blackmailing Watson for “indefinite-silence” back in January.
Unfortunately for us all, this is either the downfall of who many thought of as one of the highest human beings in football or a disgraceful move by ownership to destroy Watson’s career.