Sean Pendergast

Could an NFL Punishment for Deshaun Watson Be Coming Soon?

A decision on Deshaun Watson's punishment, if any, may be coming soon.
A decision on Deshaun Watson's punishment, if any, may be coming soon. Screen grab from YouTube
When the Texans finally traded Deshaun Watson back in the middle of March, I know there was a big part of the Texans' fan base that was just glad to see him leave, and thankful that they would never have to talk about him ever again. I know that this faction of people exists, because they text my radio show every time we mention Watson saying "WHY ARE Y'ALL TALKING ABOUT WATSON? HE IS GONE!!"

Here's the reality of the situation — sure, Deshaun Watson has moved onto a new place of business, having landed in the soft pile of money, $230 million guaranteed, that the Cleveland Browns dropped on him, but the Texans DO own the Browns' next two first round draft picks, in 2023 and 2024. Thus, the more the Browns can lose, the better those picks become. Taking it one step further, the longer a Watson suspension, if it happens, lasts, the better the chance that the Browns lose more football games.

In short, what happens with Watson still matters to the Texans, and thus, should matter to Texan fans. So if you're one of those Texan fans that can meet in the middle and say "Fine, Sean, I'll listen to you discuss Deshaun Watson, IF the information is relevant to the Texans," then I implore you to read the next several hundred words.

Watson is meeting with the NFL's investigative arm this week here in Houston, presumably as part of their process to determine what, if any, punishment the Browns' quarterback (still feels weird to type "Browns quarterback, Deshaun Watson") should receive. Per Ed Werder of ESPN.com on Tuesday of this week:
Why is this important? Well, simply put, during an investigation into a disciplinary issue, the league typically interviews the subject of the investigation (in this case, Deshaun Watson) at the END of the process, so that he can respond to the assertions made by witnesses and/or accusers. In this case, Deshaun has LOTS of the latter, and practically none of the former.

So it stands to reason to think that the NFL might be getting ready to hand down a decision on Watson, even though he is still entrenched in his position that he did nothing wrong, and he intends to fight all 22 of these civil lawsuits, a process that could take years since all 22 cases must be tried separately.

In tandem with the league continuing its own investigation, Tony Buzbee, the attorney for the 22 plaintiffs, continues to make life in the public relations realm a living hell for Watson. On Tuesday, Buzbee leaked some of Watson's testimony from a pre-trial deposition, and the information revealed is not a great look for Watson:
The testimony came in the case brought by Ashley Solis. She was the first therapist to go public with her claims.

Watson claimed he didn’t know why she had cried. Solis claims that Watson intentionally touched her with his penis during the massage, prompting the reaction.

“Sorry about you feeling uncomfortable,” Watson texted. “Never were the intentions. Lmk if you want to work in the future. My apologies.”

Asked why he sent an apology, Watson testified: “Yes, because she was teary-eyed. And I was trying to figure out what was going on. So, I assumed that she was uncomfortable in whatever reason. And we talked about working in the future. And so, I said, `We can work in the future. Just let me know.’ And then I sent my apologies as whatever reason she was teary-eyed for.”
Buzbee doesn't do anything accidentally, and it's no coincidence that this testimony from Watson leaks on the very same week that the league is eating with Watson, and possibly wrapping up its investigation. None of us know what actually happened. It's Watson's word against that of 22 separate accusers. None of us know how believable or compelling the accusers are in their interviews with the league.

What we do know is that eventually the league is going to make some sort of ruling related to Watson, possibly very soon. If you're a Texans fan, the NFL's decision matters tremendously to you.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast