We are officially in Day 29 of the hostage crisis we like to call "Deshaun Watson Watch." For it was on January 6, 2021, when we first learned of Watson's disenchantment with, if not outright anger at, his current employer, the Houston Texans. More specifically, reports said, that Watson was livid with owner Cal McNair over the fact that McNair had promised to keep the quarterback apprised of progress with hiring a general manager and head coach.
Unfortunately, Watson found out about the team's hiring Nick Caserio as its new GM the same way the rest of us did — on social media. Anger has since morphed into a trade request, and now here we sit, with a first time head coach deluded into thinking that Watson and the team are simpatico.
David Culley: "Deshaun Watson is a Houston Texan. He's the quarterback of the Houston Texans ... He is a Houston Texan, and I want him to be a Houston Texan, and the reason I'm in this position today is because I knew he's going to be a Houston Texan." pic.twitter.com/W8v2PT3j8n— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) January 29, 2021
I fear that this is all headed to a very dark place, where the fan base begins to turn on Watson (who is the good guy, for now) in dribs and drabs, and where ultimately he ends up in another uniform, and the Texans end up on an endless rebuilding cycle as the new wave version of the Cincinnati Bengals. The question right now is "Who is to blame for all of this?"
Well, I put it to the constituency that we use to resolve all of our hot-take debates in 2021 — TWITTER! In a poll of nearly 3,400 followers of @SeanTPendergast in Twitter, folks overwhelmingly blame owner Cal McNair for the ugly standoff between team and quarterback:
#Penderpoll for Texan fans — who do you blame most for where we are right now with the standoff between the Texans and Deshaun Watson?— Sean Pendergast (@SeanTPendergast) January 30, 2021
If we treat the two sides as tag teams, the team of McNair and EVP of Football Operations Jack Easterby comprise 90.9 percent of the vote, while Watson and his agent, David Mulugheta, gather a mere 9.1 percent. Let's lay out the case for each, and you can use this as a guide for the next time I pose this question. (NOTE: I'll probably do this weekly, just to see the gradual and inevitable turn against Watson and his representation.)
To be clear, I am not saying I agree with all of the arguments I put forth below. I am merely presenting the most plausible way to blame (or absolve from blame) each of the parties involved:
Case for blame: He is the owner of the team, and the buck stops with him on EVERYTHING, including Easterby's employment, which is an issue with not just Watson, but practically everyone in the building. Also, couldn't you have just picked up a phone and called Watson about Caserio? Is it that hard?
Case for absolving: He is still a neophyte owner, who is making his early career mistakes. Also, he has unfortunately aligned himself with an opportunistic snake. McNair is being taken advantage of.
Case for blame: Easterby is the source for ALL that is bad in that organization right now. He is a culture coach who has created a toxic culture, and he is in this for one person — Jack Easterby.
Case for absolving: Hey McNair is handing him all of this power. If your boss paid you seven figures and didn't blame you for any of the colossal mistakes that have been made (even when your fingerprints are all over them), wouldn't you just keep conquering?
Case for blame: Watson has not clearly communicated anything as to what exactly he wants, or where the team went wrong. He's only done so with annoying, cryptic rap lyric posts on social media.
Case for absolving: Watson is easily the best at his job among any of these people, and he is the one guy who actually takes a physical pounding due to the mistakes the team has made.
Case for blame: There are some who think this whole thing is a ploy by Mulugheta for HIM to flex HIS muscles, and progress toward super agent status. If so, that's the opposite of an agent's job, which is to do what's in the best interest of YOUR CLIENT, not yourself.
Case for absolving: Deshaun is his boss, and he is just carrying out Deshaun's bidding, including, when possible, trying to establish the boundaries of where the truth ends and fantasy begins:
On behalf of “#DavidMulugheta”, who I speak to often, I can confirm this information is made up, like much of the other breaking news I’ve heard attributed to “sources close to Watson”. https://t.co/ycF1iqLhzA— David Mulugheta (@DavidMulugheta) February 1, 2021
To be continued.....
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.