For the first time in over a month, I think we can look back at the previous week and all of the legal happenings surrounding Deshaun Watson, and say "OK, things seem to be settling down a little bit." Don't get me wrong, there is still a long way to go in this saga, and Deshaun Watson is undoubtedly still embroiled in a maelstrom like we've rarely ever seen with a current, elite NFL player.
However, the week ended without a Tony Buzbee social media salvo, and it ended with the same NET number of lawsuits against Watson as there were at the beginning of the week, 22 in all. (One of the original 22 plaintiffs backed out, for now, from suing Watson, while another lawsuit was added in the middle of the week.) Additionally, every plaintiff suing Watson has had to (or will have to) disclose their actual names and cannot sue the Texans' quarterback under a "Jane Doe" pseudonym. That last part alone, the revealing of the names of Watson's accusers, SHOULD allow the litigation to pick up some steam now that Rusty Hardin, Watson's super-attorney, can mount a defense strategy.
As we outlined here last week, pubic sentiment in favor of Deshaun Watson seems to dwindle almost daily, for whatever reason. Some Texan fans undoubtedly believe his accusers, which would be a logical reason to side against Watson. Many fans and media are playing "wait and see" with the accusations, but know that what Watson HAS admitted to — using DOZENS of different massage therapists over the last year and having what he deems "consensual sexual encounters" with at least a few — at the very least is indicative of some procedural sloppiness that's put him in position for what's going on now, and thus has made him untrade-able, for the time being.
So we can add Watson to the list of people to blame for the Houston Texans' current lot in life, in which they prepare for a 2021 season where the Vegas oddsmakers have them as (a) the longest shot on the board to win a Super Bowl (150 to 1) AND the team in the NFL who will win the fewest number of games this year (posted win total of 4.5).
Who do Texan fans primarily blame for this? Well, funny you should ask, because I put that on a Twitter poll to which over 2,200 people responded, most of them presumably Texan fans, given my largely Houston-based social media following. Here were the results:
#Penderpoll for #Texans fans ... odds on the 2021 season are out. The Texans have the longest Super Bowl odds (+15000) and the lowest posted win total (4.5).— Sean Pendergast (@SeanTPendergast) April 15, 2021
Who do you primarily blame for this?
What's interesting about these results, to me, is that it's tough to assign blame to any SINGLE person (and yet, that's exactly what I am asking the pollsters to do), so if I were to be allowed to answer this poll in essay form, and parse out partial blame to all parties involved, I think the results of this poll, with 2,200-plus separate people answering, actually represents what my metaphorical "pie chart of blame" would look like.
CAL McNAIR (44 percent)
McNair undoubtedly deserves the most blame in all of this. He is the owner and the final decision maker on all of the big choices this franchise has made and will make. (Technically, Janice McNair, Cal's mother and widow of the late Bob McNair, is the actual owner, but Cal is running things.) He is the one who hired Jack Easterby, he is the one who promoted Bill O'Brien, and those are the two men whose subsequent, more granular day to day decisions ruined the franchise. So let's get to the them...
JACK EASTERBY (22 percent)
BILL O'BRIEN (26 percent)
I thought this part of the poll played out perfectly, O'Brien and Easterby getting nearly equal parts blame in where the Texans are right now. Aside from the ongoing drama with Watson, the most detrimental aspects of the franchise right now all stem from personnel and contractual decisions made by O'Brien and Easterby. Trading DeAndre Hopkins for less than nothing, gutting TWO drafts for a left tackle, overpaying Whitney Mercilus and a slew of others, these were all O'Brien decisions made with Easterby whispering in his ear. Additionally, we've seen multiple article about a toxic culture of soul crushing chaos behind the scenes, and that all centers around Easterby, who ironically was hired by the Texans in 2019 because of the stellar job he did establishing culture in New England the previous six years.
DESHAUN WATSON (8 percent)
Watson doesn't deserve the same amount of blame as the true decision makers for this franchise. However, it is Watson's questionable decision making in his personal life which is, at the very least, delaying the opportunity for the Texans to trade him (which is what HE wants) and begin rebuilding the roster with a slew of draft picks. Watson's shoddy handling of his own personal care, not to mention the clown show that his inner circle has proven to be during this past month, has prevented both he AND the Texans from getting what they want. That's the definition of destructive, and thus, Watson deserves a slice of the "blame pie."
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