We are past the time when it is acceptable for anyone who covers sports, no matter how old, to be able to claim that they’re just not equipped to cover the kind of story that Deshaun Watson is. There may have been a time, when all the things that come into play when covering a sexual assault story may have been beyond the cigar-chomping, rarely-sober scribe with the stains on his suspenders. But these stories have been around sports for too long to not at least be aware of the nuances and usual excuses and denials for them that writers are all too aware of. To not ask the obvious questions, the questions that need to be asked, is simply shirking one’s duty simply to remain in good standing with both the player and team. This is where that hallowed “access” that writers haven’t stopped bitching about losing during the pandemic, and yet do so little with it, comes in. It’s not the access to the stories worth telling they want, it’s just the being around the locker room.
Watson once again had to get out in front of the press, and his delusional oratory was once again on display. Last time he did this at his introductory presser with Cleveland, as well as having his lawyer go on HBO’s “Real Sports,” resulted in additional lawsuits against him. This appearance probably will, too.
It doesn’t really matter why Watson has deluded himself. He’s gotten to the point, and did long ago, where he thinks that what he asked of and did to these women is just part of massage therapy. Maybe he convinced himself of that to justify simply not going to a “professional,” which is really what he was after. Maybe that’s the kind of thing he thought was beneath him, and this was his out. Maybe he thinks, or has convinced himself, they’re the same thing. Maybe he genuinely thinks this is how massages work. Maybe he has convinced himself since that they do in order to shield himself from what he’s accused of doing. Certainly the Texans didn’t help by providing him NDAs and a safe space. Whatever the path, this is where Watson is. That’s how he can get up in front of another group of microphones and cameras and actually be convinced he did nothing wrong. He almost certainly doesn’t think he did.
But we know better, or should. And yet here’s a sampling of the questions Watson faced in front of the Cleveland media:
Of course, these reporters know the game. It’s unlikely that Watson will be suspended for life, though that would be appropriate. There will come a point, maybe this season, maybe next, when they have to cover Watson just as the quarterback for the Browns. And they don’t want any perceived slights from doing their jobs in the past to cloud that kind of reporting in the future. They don’t want to lose the answers to their questions about a coverage on a second-quarter TD pass in Week 3, whether it’s 2022 or 2023. Maybe they thought he wouldn’t answer a lot due to the open lawsuits. Just because you might not get an answer doesn’t mean the question doesn’t have value if asked. Here are some things it would have been good to see Watson face:
Why 66 women? Don’t athletes usually stick with just one therapist they find that they like, given how much care they put into their bodies?
Why did you need NDAs?
Why did you hire some who hadn’t even gotten their licenses yet?
Why didn’t you just go through the Texans for these appointments?
Why didn’t you care what their experience level was at times, as you said in your deposition? What was your priority if not recovery?
And that’s just a sampling of where they could have gone. But no, it was about the “hurt” Watson is experiencing, as they climbed over each other to get on his good side. It’s pretty easy to see how an athlete like Watson can be so shielded and become so entitled as to think the things he’s done are normal. After all, he never hears any criticism directly, does he? All these lawsuits are from the outside, at least to him. The ones inside the circle, the writers he’ll see most every day, well, they clearly aren’t going to do anything to make him feel like he was in the wrong. They have a job to do, as they see it. Sadly, it’s not the job that’s required.