Talent trumps anything in the NFL — and Jimmy Haslam knows that.
“We strongly believe [Deshaun Watson] deserves a second chance,” the Cleveland Browns owner said last week. “We gave Kareem Hunt a second chance and that worked out pretty well.”
A few days later — marching to the beat of the drum that Haslam started playing — a couple of disgusting “adults” showed up at the stadium in “support” of their star quarterback. There was a man selling T-shirts that read “BITCH GIVE ME A MASSAGE!” in the team’s colors, along with what appeared to be a father-and-son duo that showed up with signs “FUCK THEM HOES” and “FREE WATSON.”
Way to stay classy, Cleveland.
Beyond being a reminder that the Browns are a franchise that will always welcome talented players who have done bad things to women, Haslam gave every man — and woman — that doesn’t believe women, or always assumes that they’re lying about unwanted sexual acts or advances that have been made against them, the green light to act like this is a conversation about redemption when it’s solely about revenue.
If Watson weren’t good at football, Haslam wouldn’t have signed him to the largest guaranteed deal in NFL history. He doesn’t care about Watson’s soul, he cares about his investment. And that’s not an opinion, it’s a fact.
“And you can say, ‘well that’s because he’s a star quarterback.’ Well, of course,” said Haslam about what’s the real reason why the franchise is standing behind Watson.
In a series of tweets last month, ESPN reporter Kimberley A. Martin chronicled some fan reactions toward Watson at practice. The scene of children frolicking toward him was frustrating. And it’s not like it was the kids’ fault, as the blame is on their parents. I mean, how else do you think they got there? Somebody had to take them to practice so that they could get autographs and a pair of their “hero’s” cleats.
It’s a far cry from how things were last summer for Watson, as he was caught on camera walking off the field at a Houston Texans practice when he asked the media, “Why y’all always filming me every day? It’s the same shit,” as if he isn’t the reason why he had at least 24 sexual misconduct lawsuits filed against him.
The way you walk and talk changes when you’ve realized that you’re Teflon in your team owner’s eyes.
Over the next few months, it will be interesting to see how fans — of all ages — respond to Deshaun Watson. Will he get booed on the road and be supported at home? Or in a few months, will people have “moved on” to focus solely on football?
But what we do know is that those kids who were holding up signs and getting autographs from Watson were there because of their parents. And when you realize that those kids will one day become parents, you start to understand how this cycle continues.