Charged, But Seeking Freedom

-Alex Fleming

photo credit: ABC Columbia

It’s not hard to argue that Deshaun Watson is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL today. If one were to look at his trajectory over his four-year career, you can see that he’s only getting better throughout his time in the NFL. Although he’s been sacked 174 times, his completion percentage has went up every year. From 67% in 2019, to 70.22% and 2020, he is a franchise quarterback that you cannot replace. Yet, the team that drafted him, does not seem to value him. Although it was announced on Twitter, a social media post has stated that Deshaun Watson has been charged allegedly with sexual assault. The charge stems from a masseuse that Watson had visited. The validity of the suit is not in question; Watson addressed the charges himself in a tweet.  

photo credit: Sky Sports

A natural man to follow and root for, Watson has been squeaky clean in his collegiate career and since he entered the NFL. Some of his antics if naysayers would call it that, was being baptized in Israel. Never a concern off the field, the charge of sexual assault is not only disturbing but despicable. Whether it be a smear job, or a major misunderstanding, Watson’s name is being tarnished. In the age of social media, it is not hard to tarnish someone’s name. The term innocent until proven guilty is now a phrase that we don’t commonly use. Some people get the benefit of the doubt, but others get smeared. Regardless which side you decide to take, this needs to be played out properly.

photo credit: Houston Press

What is ironic about this entire situation is the lawyer who is pursuing the charge of sexual assault. Without mentioning the individual’s name, the attorney has been a lightning rod for some questionable cases and abstract accusations that might not have the most solid foundation behind them. What convolutes this lawsuit, is the mere fact that the attorney has ties to Cal McNair: who just happens to be the owner of the Houston Texans. If one were to recall some of the statements that Mr. McNair senior (Bob) made about some of his own players, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think that this could be an inside job. If you don’t remember what the original owner of the Texans had said, he infuriated former Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins with a comment at an owner’s meeting two years ago. Without paraphrasing, McNair said that, “You can’t allow the inmates to run the prison,” This was in reference to a bargaining agreement and current uprising of players rights and protests during a hot 2018 season that was only doused with gasoline, when fueled by statements and tweets from a former President.

photo credit: ESPN

Before DeAndre Hopkins was traded to Arizona for next to nothing, Duane Brown, an offensive lineman, spoke out against the statement that the former owner made in 2018. He was abruptly traded to the Seattle Seahawks later in the season. Would it be out of the realm of consciousness to assume that these charges are fictitious, and is driven by spite? Currently can’t be proven, but it’s definitely possible. Far too often are the victims made out to be the suspects in cases such as these. To be fair to both sides of this nasty equation, no judgment will be given or soon this day. What is of concern, is the repercussions of what can happen after false charges have been made, or actual charges are ignored. How powerful is the media when it comes to burying or freeing an individual with perceived power? Major athletes have been accused before. We’ve seen it time and time again. Kobe Bryant, Patrick Kane, Ben Roethlisberger; the list is non-discriminatory. How society treats these allegations, undoubtedly differentiates amongst individuals in the limelight. Only time will tell how this story will end, but the media cycle is running rampant with the story about a man who has been nothing but a gentleman, and is vocally unhappy with his current work employer.

photo credit: Bro Bible

Maybe we as a society are to blame. As thirsty as some are to be first in a matter of breaking news to the public, or passing judgment if something were to be sent out on social media and incorrect, we are all judge jury and executioner when we are lost in the moment. While we watch this unfold, and pontificate on the sidelines, one man is struggling with finding himself in a position where he is inevitably stuck in a situation that he wants to get out of. Why he decided to sign the contract, no one knows. Would you turn down that amount of money? Could you turn down that amount of money? Athletes work their entire lives to be able to benefit off of their skill set, and help those who couldn’t help themselves. Too many stories have been told of poverty to perseverance from athletes that come from humble beginnings before they broke through and made it to the big leagues. However, Watson is elite. To even the harshest football purist, it would be blasphemous to assume that Watson isn’t a top five quarterback in the league. Let’s name the few quarterbacks that you would want before selecting Deshaun Watson. Patrick Mahomes is obvious, Tom Brady would probably end up on the list, one could argue Aaron Rodgers, and if honesty were to come into play, maybe Russell Wilson would be thought of before Watson. That’s the list.

photo credit: Houston Chronicle

Many players have exited from the city of Houston. From Tyrann Mathieu, to the previously mentioned DeAndre Hopkins, to the recent departure of JJ Watt, and crossing over to the NBA to James Harden, the human triple-double Russell Westbrook, or the World Series champion George Springer formerly of the Houston Astros. Over the past year, Houston doesn’t seem to be a place where athletes want to stay for a long period of time. The only issue is Watson wants to leave, but he can’t. Now, with the recent allegations of sexual assault, not only is Watson currently attempting to clear his name, he could actually really be fighting for his freedom.

feature photo: Reddit