One rule of thumb for Houston Texans fans to live by here in 2021 (and really it goes for Houston sports fans, in general) — don't take a nap, or go to bed earl, other wise you will undoubtedly miss the release of the next episode in this year's citywide soap opera. On Thursday morning, we outlined the first wave of lawsuits either filed or threatened to be filed against Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Well, the post had actually been obsoleted overnight on Wednesday leading into Thursday, when plaintiffs' attorney Tony Buzbee dropped another bomb on Instagram late Wednesday evening:
So overnight, we went from two lawsuits and two more coming to three lawsuits and three more coming. Also, Buzbee was 100 percent correct when he said the third one alleges the most "egregious" acts yet, as this one accuses Watson of forcing the plaintiff, another licensed massage therapist, to perform oral sex on him.
There are obviously very real, human angles in all of this, particularly if the accusations are true, but until Watson has fully given his side of the story — up until now, all we've gotten from him is a social media post denying the allegations in the first lawsuit — it's irresponsible to assume anything about the veracity of the lawsuits, and in turn, condemn Watson. The only thing he is guilty of, at this point, is a somewhat haphazard method of procuring massage therapy.
As for the football ramifications of the Watson drama (admittedly the less important angle than the alleged human toll, but I write and speak about sports for a living), here are four thoughts or questions that will weigh prominently into the future of the Houston Texans and their quarterback:
Forget about a high level rookie quarterback in this draft for the Texans
Right now, barring all of these plaintiffs suddenly admitting that their allegations are false, the Texans are looking at two scenarios, based on how Watson chooses to play this. If his reaction to the first lawsuit is how he intends to address the remaining several, digging in and denying, then these will go to trial. Between discovery and the trial itself, it is almost a lock that these will extend past the draft on April 29. I'm guessing no team will trade for Watson without some resolution to this matter, so you can forget about getting the Jets' pick at number two overall, or the Dolphins pick at number three overall, and in turn, you can forget about a young rookie quarterback for Watson. The second scenario is that Watson settles with these women out of court, and that will bring with it all sorts of questions about the league investigating so they can administer some punishment, and/or teams not willing to pony up nearly as much for a quarterback with this off-field baggage. Bottom line is that the last two days have been atrocious for the Texans' offseason.
What must Nick Caserio be thinking?
Man, when Nick Caserio jumped on that private jet with Cal McNair and Jack Easterby, he probably thought to himself "Finally, I get my chance to be an NFL general manager, on a team with a franchise quarterback, in a warm weather city, making BIG BUCKS." So far, the only thing that's lived up to the hype has been the paycheck. Caserio is reportedly one of the highest paid GMs in the sport. As for the rest of the gig, Watson requested a trade shortly after Caserio arrived, and now Watson is under siege with these lawsuits, making him impossible to trade even if Caserio wanted to do so. Oh, by the way, we even experienced an historic freeze and power outage in February. Welcome to Houston, Nick!
Might this ordeal be the mechanism for Watson and the Texans to come together again?
Wouldn't the ultimate irony in this horrific ordeal be these lawsuits providing the mechanism for the Texans and Watson to mend fences? OK, hear me out on this one. I would like to think that as these lawsuits became public that owner Cal McNair sent Watson a text, the same way you would send one to a close friend or relative going through this mess, telling him "Hey, just want you to know, we love you, and if you need anything to reach out." Hell, McNair might even preface it by acknowledging the frostiness of their relationship currently, which unto itself would be progress. I would imagine Watson is feeling cornered and alone right now, and perhaps he comes away with a renewed perspective, seeing his issues with the team as relatively minor compared to the possibility fo having football taken away from him with a suspension.
If Watson is found liable, what are the football ramifications?
Well, you can start with a suspension, for sure. As to what it would be, commissioner Roger Goodell feels like he takes some latitude with the exact lengths of suspensions from time to time, as is his right, by rule. The baseline is six games, so depending on how many women come forth, who knows what it could end up? The second offense results in a ban from the NFL. Are these multiple lawsuits viewed as multiple offenses under this policy, and if so, would this mean banning Watson for life? Also, if he is suspended, then the guarantees for money in his contract would be voided. Watson's contract extension included $116 million in guaranteed money.
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