It’s the ‘research’ dance again

Browns pull out NFL playbook to justify acquisition of Deshaun Watson

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Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson
Illustration: AP

While NFL teams, and all professional sports teams for the most part (at least those that have the faintest clue what they’re doing), spend millions on having PR firms and people at their disposal, it seems that most everything they do comes from the same template. No matter the situation, we know the buzzwords that will soon follow. Fire a coach and it’s “change of direction and we thank Roger Jamoke for his contributions.” Have to release a player when it turns out he’s an actual demon and it’s “He let our organization and community down.” So when you’re a team like the Cleveland Browns, and you have to “justify” your acquisition of Deshaun Watson, and your emptying of several bank vaults at his doorstep, the statements you have to put out go over a well-worn path.

As we always see when a player with a checkered history, or indeed a pretty sketchy present, we know the ownership and GM will make some reference to “extensive research” into his life and then some allusion to having all the confidence that the player they’re trying to sneak under the moral facade they have has either “learned his lesson,” or “will be a model citizen,” or “will be a help to the community.” This is PR karaoke at this point. Just change the logo and name at the top of the letterhead.

Which is pretty much what the Browns did.

Of course, what we know is that the Browns’ “research” didn’t extend beyond the film of Baker Mayfield overthrowing most open receivers by five yards and at 75 MPH, their ready-to-win defense, and deciding that no sense of morality or decency was going to keep them from solving that problem. It’s the calculus every team makes.


And we know they didn’t do much else, because the lawyer for the 22 women (you really can’t stress enough the fact that there are 22 women claiming to have been harassed or assaulted), never heard from the Browns. Now, there’s probably a good reason for that. The Browns, and all of us, know the outlines of the case against Watson by this point. Tony Buzbee isn’t going to give anything away that isn’t already in the public forum and risk his case or his clients. The Browns could claim that.

Maybe the actual women aren’t allowed to talk to the Browns, though they would be allowed to talk to the NFL whenever they get around to wrapping up their investigation. But again, did the Browns really have to? We know the gist of the case here. And again, there’s 22 of them.

So who did the Browns actually talk to? His college coach? His parents? A bartender? Or a focus group of Browns fans asking them how’d they’d feel about it? We’ll never know.

So really, all the Browns, all anyone, has to ask themselves, is this:


We know exactly how protective pro athletes are when it comes to their bodies and fitness. Their diet, supplements, workouts, rest, recovery, and travel is almost regimented down to the minute and calorie to keep them in peak shape for as long as possible. That’s why some of them, infuriatingly, have refused the vaccine, such is their care about anything that goes into or onto their bodies.

So most athletes, if they’re not using the team masseuse or trainer or fitness coach, have one of their own. One. One they trust and have worked with and know the results because again, their level of trust would not go beyond that.


So why 50? Why track them down on Insta? That’s all you have to ask. You don’t have to judge in any way while asking that question and awaiting an answer. But what could that answer be? I mean to me it sounds like a predator, someone who’s taken one of the fixations of porn — the idea that it’s someone new on demand — and brought it to real life. But that’s me. What answer could possibly satisfy the Browns if they were really “doing their research?”

Oh right, Watson’s career QBR. That’s the only answer they needed.