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Deshaun Watson has been accused of sexual assault by 20 different women, yet Colts linebacker Darius Leonard isn’t happy that the story is receiving the coverage it is. More specifically, Leonard is mad that the media has covered the civil lawsuits more aggressively than allegations that Chad Wheeler assaulted his girlfriend.
It’s crazy that people bash Watson with no evidence but nobody want to say anything about Chad Wheeler who tried to kill his girlfriend🤔! I’m just saying now, D Wat got killed with no proof but this guy who tried to put his girlfriend underground @espn or any other outlets was🤫
— Darius Leonard (@dsleon45) March 27, 2021
Leonard’s tweet is dishonest and his comparison is foolish. Let’s take it step by step:
Deshaun Watson is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Chad Wheeler is an unknown former offensive tackle whom the Seahawks waived in January. Fair or not, stars receive more coverage, positive or negative, than random backups. This is why Watson’s on-field performances on Sundays are weekly topics across talk-radio and Wheeler’s fail to make a niche Reddit message board.
For the same reasons, the media spent months on sexual assault allegations against Ben Roethlisberger but opted to avoid covering Jarron Jones when he was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and strangulation after an altercation with his girlfriend. You are probably wondering who Jarron Jones is. You may be hearing his name for the first time — after all, he is an offensive lineman on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ practice squad. Due to those credentials, his horrific attack barely made the news.
For more context, Jarron Jones is a black man and Roethlisberger is white. While that seems meaningless — and, on its face, is — it’s noteworthy in this case because soon after Darius Leonard’s first tweet, he implied that white players like Wheeler receive more favorable press because of racism.
Let me guess politics? Or it wouldn’t be good to shame a 🤫 let me stop !
— Darius Leonard (@dsleon45) March 27, 2021
I’m not sure what else Leonard could’ve been implying there, but either way, like Leonard’s other arguments, the idea that racism plays a role here can be debunked with more than one example.
If the media is afraid to cover allegations against white players but picks on black players — why were reports that Tom Brady possibly used deflated footballs covered far more frequently than most of the violent crimes black players have committed? Maybe, just maybe, it’s because Brady, like Watson, is a superstar quarterback.
Hey @dsleon45, your followers seem to feel you were indicating this is racist.
If so, why did Tom Brady possibly using deflated footballs get more coverage than Chad Wheeler beating his girlfriend?
— Bobby Burack (@burackbobby_) March 28, 2021
The media also isn’t “killing” (to use Leonard’s word) Deshaun Watson. In fact, given the magnitude and possible ramifications of the story, Watson has been covered lightly. OutKick’s Clay Travis argued why last week:
I’ll tell you. The American sports media — and the American media in general — is so captured by identity politics at this point that objective and honest journalistic coverage is nearly impossible to find. The sports media is paralyzed by their own wokeness. Without an easy villain to fit into the identity politics narrative — who is the villain here, the 16 women or the black quarterback? — the sports media’s victimization pyramid collapses on itself.
The American sports media has gone so overboard in the direction of the left wing identity politics universe that most in sports media are afraid to utter a word here. Because the minute you say anything, you risk alienating one of the pillars of the woke sports media establishment. If you don’t #believeallwomen, then you are turning your back on vulnerable women to help protect an extremely powerful man. But if you believe the women, then you are criticizing the black quarterback, who has come to represent the apex of the victimization pyramid ascendant in modern sports culture today.
ESPN has covered the lawsuits against Watson far less aggressively than Drew Brees supporting the flag, Peyton Manning’s 20-year-old mooning scandal, and Brady’s Deflategate.
Would ESPN analysts provide the same benefit of the doubt to a white player accused of sexual assault by 20 different women? Probably not. Domonique Foxworth of ESPN admitted that he roots for white QB Josh Allen to fail because Allen’s fans like the American flag and dogs. ESPN’s Mark Jones celebrated white player Nick Bosa’s ACL tear because Bosa stood for the national anthem. So yeah, I have some doubts that Allen and Bosa would be awarded the same due process by the sports media that some black players have.
Finally, there isn’t much more to say about Chad Wheeler’s case. Talking points and interest drive media coverage. There’s no interest in Wheeler and there is nothing else to add other than stating the news, which was covered nationally, including by OutKick. Leonard compares Wheeler to Watson, a superstar who recently requested a trade that would have altered the league. No one can discuss what Wheeler’s team should do about him because he doesn’t play for one. He also never made much of an impact on the league or on sports media even when he was on a team — the guy barely played.
Media coverage is full of double standards, hypocrisy, agendas, favors, dishonesty, and lies — no one points these out more than me — but none apply to Darius Leonard’s argument. This was a big swing and a staggering miss.