In the annals of great NFL "what ifs," the Chicago Bears' deciding to draft QB Mitchell Trubisky over Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson in 2017, might take the cake for this decade. If you recall (and in Houston, we recall the whole thing, chapter and verse), the Bears traded significant draft capital to move up one spot, from three to two, to draft Trubisky as their QB of the future in 2017.
Eight picks later, the Chiefs moved up to draft Mahomes, and two picks after that, the Texans moved up to nab Watson. Needless to say, both the Chiefs and the Texans hit their knees every night and thank all of the football gods that Bears GM Ryan Pace was dumb enough to pass on Mahomes and Watson for a VERY unproven commodity in Trubisky. Fast forward to 2020, and Mahomes is a Super Bowl champion, Watson is one of the brightest young stars in the sport, and Trubisky? He is in a battle for his job with Nick Foles.
So why am I typing about all of this? Well, the embers on this gaffe were stoked late last week by, of all people, John Feinstein (whose areas of expertise are college basketball and whining) and Doug Williams (the first black QB to start and win a Super Bowl). Here is how it went....
Bears declining 5th yr. option on Mitchell Trubisky, QB they chose AHEAD of Patrick Mahomes AND DeShaun Watson. I asked Doug Williams where Mahomes and Watson would have gone if they'd been white: "Ahead of Trubisky," he said. "Ahead of No. 2" I said. "Absolutely," he answered.— John Feinstein (@JFeinsteinBooks) May 3, 2020
From there, in waltzed Doug Gottlieb, a fairly outspoken radio host for FOX on its national platform. Gottlieb took great umbrage with Williams' assertion ....
This is beyond idiotic @JFeinsteinBooks The idea the league evaluates a QB on race in 2020 is just dumb, disconnected and bitterness from 40 year old transgressions - Trubisky isn’t as good as Watson/Mahomes, the Bears evaluated em all, and missed. That’s it. https://t.co/nLjLcDPk5Q— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) May 8, 2020
Now, clearly the battle liens are drawn — it's Feinstein versus Gottlieb, it's "racism is still rampant in the NFL" versus "come one, you really think racism is part of evaluations?" IF you want to go down that rabbit hole, and all of the replies to Gottlieb's and Feinstein's tweets, some of which are really, um, special, then knock yourself out. I am here to get to the Deshaun Watson part.
Watson saw this tweet exchange, and wanted to interject some truth into the matter.
The bears NEVER ONCE talked to me.. https://t.co/nMX7JKW99P— Deshaun Watson (@deshaunwatson) May 9, 2020
So there you go, right from the horse's mouth. The Bears never once spoke to Deshaun Watson, which, whether racially driven or evaluation driven, is one of the dumbest gaffes a general manager for a clearly QB-needy team can make. Obviously, one motivation for not speaking with Watson (the racial motivation) is insidious. The other one is just dumb. Regardless, Watson isn't accusing the Bears of anything here. He is merely pointing out that the Bears never talked to him.
Now, wait! There is more! In swoops Rich Eisen of the NFL Network, who has a talk show of his own, and he goes to the tape! Here is Watson back before the 2017 draft, saying he spoke with, among several teams, the Chicago Bears!
GOTTLIEB FEELS REDEEMED! Check it out!
Now comes our final character in this saga, Watson's personal QB coach, Quincy Avery, who's been with Watson since his Clemson days, and was with him throughout the draft process back in 2017. He gives Gottlieb an education on how the highly dishonest, smokescreen-filled draft process works....
. @GottliebShow You are obviously confused on the pre-draft process, so let me help you out. Every year, players are instructed by their agent to leverage the media so that teams feel that there is more competition in the market place than there actually is. https://t.co/dDj3ncEjTr— quincy_avery (@Quincy_Avery) May 9, 2020
IN fact, Avery felt strongly enough about this to smarten Eisen up, as well....
Not exactly. Explain it to you same way I did for Doug. Every year, players are instructed by their agent to leverage the media so that teams feel that there is more competition in the market place than there actually is.— quincy_avery (@Quincy_Avery) May 9, 2020
Oh, and Bill Barnwel of ESPN.coml, here's a heaping serving of education for you, as well!
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I'm just saying it didn't. It's clear why he would say it happened then. No reason to not be truthful now. Also was there through the process and it didn't happen.— quincy_avery (@Quincy_Avery) May 9, 2020
Avery's last point to Barnwell might be the best one to bring the turn of this matter into focus — what benefit would Deshaun Watson get from NOW telling anything but the truth about his dealings, or lack thereof, with the Bears in 2017? Either way, Twitter seemed to enjoy Doug Gottlieb getting knocked around, which is fairly typical for Twitter.
Hell, I'm just glad Deshaun wasn't tweeting rap lyrics that implied his contract talks with the Texans are falling apart.