The fact that Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is allowed anywhere near a football field is despicable, yet here we are. Watson reported to the Texans facility yesterday for COVID testing in advance of training camp, while also reiterating his stance that he will not play for the team this year. The Texans are now fielding trade calls.
Watson wants out of Houston, the Texans are open to trading him, but the question remains: Will anyone pay the price to acquire him with all that he’s been accused of? With everything surrounding him, which absolutely cannot be ignored, it’s a huge risk for other teams to embrace. Let’s not forget that Watson has been accused of sexual assault or harassment by more than 20 women.
Why he’s not on the NFL Commissioner’s Exempt List is entirely beyond me. It was built for just such a situation. Here’s the language:
Watson is not yet facing formal charges, as the legal process is dragging on. The language above, in the second and third paragraphs, indicates that the commissioner can place Watson on administrative leave if they believe that they have evidence that a violation occurred, or if further investigation is required.
Essentially, by not placing him on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, the NFL is telling us that it does not have any evidence and does not need to continue its investigation.
The NFL is standing down, and allowing Watson to play, unless Watson is formally charged. And this is bullshit.
The league is setting a terrible precedent, considering the magnitude of the accusations Watson is facing. Remember, the accusers will begin giving their depositions on September 13, a week after the NFL regular season begins.
It feels like nobody wants to confront the situation. Houston police have not stepped in, the league has not stepped in, the Texans have not stepped in — and now we’re faced with talk of a potential trade as if this were a regular “football as usual” conversation.
It is not.
Watson being allowed to play highlights a gross mentality by the league, that performance on the field continues to be more important than everything else. Mental health, brain trauma, sexual assault, you name it — if they can sweep it under the rug, they will.
I understand that Watson has not been found guilty of these charges in a court of law. I will not insinuate that he is until that happens. But with the accusations outstanding and the legal process playing out, this is exactly the situation that the Commissioner’s Exempt List should be used for. He should not touch a football field until we have clarity on the accusations he is facing.