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All That and a Bag of Mail

It’s Friday, and the Sweet 16 games start tomorrow.

Which means you still have one day left to lock in a great offer: bet $5 on any team to win in the Sweet 16, and new users get back $150. That’s a 30-1 value. I’d suggest taking the biggest favorites, Gonzaga and Arkansas, in this round. Get your bets in today.

You can also get your votes in on the OutKick Woke Bracket Challenge, which is the brilliant brainchild of our OutKick writers.

Up for voting today, the Elite 8 battle between Dan Wolken and Mark Jones.

Okay, here we go with the Friday mailbag.

Joker writes:

“As a lawyer, what do you think ends up being the result in the Deshaun Watson case?”

There are three key avenues of vulnerability for Deshaun Watson, all of which bear different risks. In order of least significance, they are:

1. The NFL personal conduct policy investigation

2. The civil suits alleging sexual assault

3. A potential criminal investigation and/or charges that could ensue as a result of that investigation.

So I think you have to assess each threat independently. The first and least serious threat is the NFL investigation. Watson likely faces at least a six-game suspension without pay. But, and this is key, no decent lawyer would let Watson cooperate with this NFL investigation while the civil and criminal suits are outstanding because anything said in response to the NFL’s investigation could be evidence in the civil or criminal arenas.

So Watson will ignore the NFL’s requests for cooperation in this case while the other court cases remain open.

Based on the precedent set so far by the NFL, I’d be stunned if Watson isn’t suspended a substantial number of games under the personal conduct policy for these allegations.

Next up in terms of danger are the civil suits. I’d be stunned if Watson allows these suits to ever reach a courtroom. He would face massive civil liability issues if each of these cases were tried in front of a jury, and even trying these cases would cost him millions of dollars in legal fees.

I would anticipate his lawyer attempting to settle these cases all in one fell swoop, paying millions, and maybe even tens of millions, in damages and seeking to forestall any additional lawsuits from being filed. In so doing, he’d hope to close the potential criminal investigations by effectively buying these women’s silence. (It’s a major failure of our civil and criminal justice systems that rich people like Watson can pay to settle civil suits in sexual assault cases, which effectively render criminal investigations null and void. You could never, for instance, pay off someone in a murder case under a wrongful death lawsuit and avoid criminal prosecution for murder. In fact, you’d actually be charged with a crime if you attempted to do so. So why do we let it happen in sexual assault cases? It’s a major flaw, in my opinion.)

Remember that the standard for legal culpability in civil cases is likely “50% plus a feather,” as opposed to “beyond a reasonable doubt” in criminal cases. (This helps to provide some answer for those who ask why the civil suits are filed before the criminal cases. Because it’s easier to prove civil liability.)

I’d be advising Watson to settle these civil cases as quickly as possible to try and avoid criminal prosecution.

Why?

Because if criminal charges are brought, then Watson’s entire career could be at risk. He might never play football again if, for instance, multiple sexual assault charges were brought in these cases. Given that Watson will potentially make several hundred million dollars in career income from football — and could play quarterback at a high level until he’s 35 or older — whatever he might have to pay to settle these civil cases is a relatively small cost compared to what he is risking if he doesn’t settle these cases and loses his football career.

The key question at play now is this: will he be charged criminally? There seems to be enough evidence, based on the fact patterns in the complaints filed, to charge him criminally in at least some of these 16 lawsuits so far. Which is why I’d be advising him to settle all of these cases in a hurry.

The next wild card here would be if these women are all willing to settle for cash as opposed to seeking criminal punishment for him. Maybe some of these women are so aggrieved they want Watson to bear criminal consequences for his actions. That’s what I’d want, personally, if my wife or daughter had been victimized like they say they were. To me, it’s insulting to think someone could sexually assault one of my family members and simply pay for what they did. I would never take money in exchange for sexual assaults. I’d want criminal charges brought too. (And I’d also probably want the person held financially responsible as well. But making a rich person pay you some of their money doesn’t feel like justice to me. I’d want them to face prison time.)

If Watson takes the settlement route — and the women are willing to take the money as well — he could potentially keep criminal charges from being filed. Assuming he did that and then issued an apology to the women for the situations he put them in — while denying that he’d ever engaged in non-consensual behavior — he’d manage to preserve his NFL career, albeit with a substantial game suspension from the NFL.

Once this legal situation is resolved, I’d expect Watson’s trade market would pick back up — although he’d have less value than before — and he could potentially be traded sometime in the fall.

That’s what I think the most likely outcome is.

But, again, there are a ton of variables we don’t know right now.

In theory, the range of potential outcomes runs from all the women are caught lying and Watson is exonerated to Watson never plays football again.

I’d encourage you to read my column on the Watson case from Wednesday if you’re interested in this case and haven’t already read it.

Alex writes:

“New York sports teams require a negative COVID test or full vaccination to get into the stadium. (Andrew Cuomo rule). Even with this, only 20% capacity is allowed, social distancing is enforced, and you need to wear a mask. If you can’t have COVID, why is only 20% capacity allowed?”

Because all of the COVID restrictions at this point are essentially cosmetic theater.

Look, California and Florida embarked on completely opposite COVID response tracks. California shut down virtually everything, and Florida kept virtually everything open. And do you know where both states have ended up? At almost the exact same death rate per million. Seriously, it’s almost the exact same per capita, and that’s despite Florida having many more elderly people, which should make Florida far more dangerous. The data is clear as day: lockdowns didn’t work. They didn’t save lives. They just destroyed the economies of the states that implemented them.

So New York’s actions are total cosmetic theater.

In theory, I suppose you could argue that a negative COVID test doesn’t mean you don’t have COVID — because the tests can lag infection — but at this point all outdoor stadiums, in my opinion, should be 100% open. The threat is minimal. If you want to go, go. If you don’t want to go, fine.

Between vaccinations and people who have already had COVID, we’re well over 200 million people in the United States who have been exposed to COVID. It’s why the cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have fallen off a cliff the past couple of months. We’ve essentially reached herd immunity in most states.

Josh writes:

“What do you think of Rutgers University requiring students being vaccinated for COVID?”

I don’t have a problem with it.

Look, most college kids have to provide proof of vaccinations to enroll already. I know I had to do this for both college and law school at George Washington and Vanderbilt.

I’ve been saying for over a year now that college kids have virtually no risk from COVID — the data made that clear — but as the vaccine enters into such substantial production that any adult can get it if they choose to get it, I really don’t have any issue with this requirement.

College kids live in dorms and are in close proximity to one another all the time. Yes, the virus bears them no real risk, but the vaccine doesn’t bear them any real risk either.

Now I don’t think workplaces should be requiring the vaccine, but I don’t have a problem with colleges requiring it for their students.

Buck writes:

“Thoughts on the woke universe going after Oral Roberts University as they are saying a Christian university is homophobic and needs to be removed from the Sweet 16.”

I’d like to think this is such a ridiculous argument there’s no way it could ever happen, but this feels like something that could be an issue in the years ahead.

I mean, the NBA moved the All Star Game out of Charlotte, North Carolina because of a transgender bathroom bill.

Do we really trust the NCAA to have a backbone at all when it comes to religious freedom?

I don’t.

But I do think the general sporting public believes that the entire purpose of the NCAA is to allow the little schools to take on the big schools on a fair playing field. We don’t have to all agree on everything in society in order for a basketball game to be played.

Frog writes:

“I spent last weekend in Vegas. When do you think every state will open sports betting up fully and how do you see that impacting the Nevada economy?”

I would suspect that within the next five years, virtually every state that has the lottery will have a form of legalized sports gambling.

The same logic that allowed the lottery to spread — “Look at all the license plates of people driving across state lines to buy tickets here. That’s tax dollars leaving the state!” — will apply to sports gambling too.

But I don’t think this will have a massive impact on Las Vegas. Because sports gambling is a small part of the allure — and revenue — of Vegas. Even in casinos themselves, the sports book is just a cool amenity. Far more of the money comes from slots and table games than it ever does from sports gambling.

Plus, Vegas has been smart to turn itself into such an entertainment mecca that you can have an incredible time without ever needing to bet on anything while you’re out there.

Furthermore, I think people are going to be desperate for vacations as summer of 2021 arrives. So I think Vegas will thrive for that reason as well.

Finally, as more people gamble on sports there may well be more people who choose to gamble on sports in Vegas too. Remember, many people are still learning the basics of sports gambling. As they get more comfortable with the process, they will be more likely to gamble on sports period, which means you may see more men hiding out in sports books while their wives and girlfriends, for instance, go shopping or hit the spa.

Thanks, as always, for supporting OutKick.

Go get your bets in on the Sweet 16 and turn your $5 bet into $150.

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.

6 Comments

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  1. I’d be more likely to buy Rutgers requiring students to get the vaccine if they weren’t still telling them to wear a mask and social distance, which apparently they are. If you’re still required to be a leper, what’s the point of the vaccine?

  2. The Watson story puzzles me. Why would he have to pay to get what he was apparently looking for? Why would he risk criminal or civil liability for any of this? The only legal issues he should have had were to keep groupies from claiming child support payments from him.

  3. You’ve lost me on the Rutgers thing. How do you know, Dr. Travis that the vaccine ‘doesn’t bear them any real risk either’? It’s been around 10 months, barely tested on humans, and the pharma Co’s have been granted immunity from liability. Comforting, right??

    • Gotta go with you here Ken. Watched ” I am Legend” this weekend. Wasn’t it a year after the original vaccine hit that the shit storm started there. Yes it’s a movie, but …. Just sayin’

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