Sean Pendergast

Rusty Hardin's "Happy Ending" Comments on SportsRadio 610 Draw Heat on Watson

Rusty Hardin's appearance on SportsRadio 610 last week has turned up the heat on Deshaun Watson's situation.
Rusty Hardin's appearance on SportsRadio 610 last week has turned up the heat on Deshaun Watson's situation. Screen grab from YouTube
The fireworks between the two lead attorneys in the bushel of civil lawsuits brought against former Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson reached a crescendo last Friday, when Watson's lead attorney, Rusty Hardin, in an interview on my morning show on SportsRadio 610 made these comments about the legality of "happy endings" in  a massage setting:
The lead attorney for the 23 (soon to be 24) plaintiffs, Tony Buzbee, had some follow-up comments on the heels of Hardin's thoughts, and we will get to Buzbee shortly. I would like to contextualize Hardin's comments embedded in the tweet above. They occurred toward the tail end of the interview, which lasted 45 minutes, and they were not in response to a specific question from me or my cohost, Seth Payne. The comments almost felt like Rusty Hardin making some version of a closing argument. In other words, this wasn't a case of hosts asking a "Gotcha!" question. Hardin walked himself into those comments.

Unfortunately for Hardin and possibly Watson, the comments exploded on the internet, and not beneficially for the defense. The "happy ending" phrasing is what grabbed people's attention, but it was the last part of that cut, where Hardin points out that doing or saying something that makes another person uncomfortable is not a crime, that might prove to be an issue for Watson in his battle in the courtroom and in trying to minimize an NFL suspension.

It came across as the first real admission from Watson's team that Watson DID do or say something uncomfortable in the massage sessions that did not end with sexual activity. Later in the day on Friday, Hardin tried to repair the damage from the morning show by issuing the following statement:
Buzbee responded on Friday through the media, both social and conventional. There was this post on Instagram, which is quite obviously a reference toward Hardin's comments being what Buzbee thinks was a Freudian slip:
After Hardin's comments went viral, Buzbee went on the offensive, telling the following to USA TODAY Sports:
“He singlehandedly is losing the case before we pick a jury,” Tony Buzbee said of Hardin.

Buzbee told USA TODAY Sports the women “didn’t agree to the massages to give Deshaun Watson a happy ending.”

“That Mr. Hardin would suggest that Watson was OK in expecting that kind of conduct is disgusting,” Buzbee said. “I think Mr. Hardin himself in his moment of clarity may have ended Watson’s career.”

Then, in an interview with Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com, Buzbee indicated that the 24th lawsuit against Watson, which he had teased was coming last week, will indeed be filed on Monday:
A 24th civil suit will be filed against Deshaun Watson on Monday by a massage therapist alleging sexual misconduct during past appointments, attorney Tony Buzbee told cleveland.com.

The 23rd suit was filed Tuesday by Buzbee’s client Nia Smith, and all 24 of the plaintiffs are represented by Buzbee.

News of the forthcoming 24th suit comes on the same day that Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, issued a statement to clarify some of the comments he made during an interview on Houston radio about “happy endings” after massage appointments. The reference is to some kind of sexual activity after the massage.
The fireworks show continues this week, and ultimately, will peak with a pending announcement from the NFL on a decision for punishment on Watson later this summer. Stay tuned!

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.
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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