At this point, there are only two real options at play when it comes to the allegations that Deshaun Watson sexually assaulted at least 16 masseuses: either Deshaun Watson is a sexual predator or a large collection of women are lying about sexual assault in an effort to extort him for money. There’s virtually no middle ground here. This isn’t a he said-she said where both sides can believe their version of the truth, which we’ve seen happen quite a lot when it comes to pro athletes like Ben Roethlisberger or Antonio Brown. Either 16 women are lying for money about sexual assault or Deshaun Watson is a sexual predator.
Those are the stakes at play, these are the options you can choose between.
As a result, this is a massive story, one of the biggest stories involving a pro athlete and the justice system in the 21st century. In fact, you can easily argue given the number of women alleging sexual assault and the status of the accused, a star quarterback in the NFL, that this is THE single biggest story involving a pro athlete and the justice system so far in the 21st century. (The other two nominees in football are Aaron Hernandez, of course, but Hernandez was nowhere near as famous as Watson is. His crime was more egregious, but his stature was far less. The other nominee would be Michael Vick’s imprisonment for dog fighting, which featured a star quarterback, but didn’t have as serious of charges being alleged. The final nominee would be Kobe Bryant’s rape charge. So at the absolute minimum, this is the second or third biggest story involving a pro athlete and the justice system this century.)
Yet the coverage of this story has been minuscule in relation to the scope of the issues at play here. It has been particularly minuscule compared to the onslaught of coverage we saw surrounding Kobe, Hernandez and Vick. In fact, as I write this today, ESPN doesn’t even have the 16 women accusing Watson of sexual assault as one of its top sports stories. There are top stories involving Dan Snyder buying the rest of the Washington Football Team, the Bucs and Patriots signing players to extensions, Jay Graham resigning as an assistant coach for Alabama, MLB taking steps to limit doctoring baseballs, but not one story about a star quarterback in the NFL facing sexual assault allegations from 16 different women?
What’s going on here? How is that one of the biggest stories of this century so far involving a superstar athlete accused of being a sexual predator isn’t even worthy of receiving a daily headline on ESPN? And it’s not just ESPN either. You probably haven’t heard the Watson case discussed in detail on any of your favorite sports TV shows, podcasts, or radio shows. Why is that? How is there such a conspiracy of comparative silence here? What’s really going on?
Especially when you consider the coverage that rained down a few years ago when Peyton Manning’s twenty year old mooning — a case that many in sports media called sexual assault — was treated like Watergate by ESPN and when Drew Brees’s recent comments on why he stood for the national anthem — to honor his two grandfathers who fought in World War II — was treated like hate speech. Generally speaking, when an NFL quarterback does anything or anyone says anything to him — witness the breathless coverage of Cam Newton being taunted by a teenager at a youth football camp — it’s top news for several days in the sports cycle.
Heck, you can go even further back to when the Duke Lacrosse case exploded, based on just one woman alleging sexual assault. That story was everywhere, impossible to miss, a dull roar that eclipsed every other story in sports. Yet Deshaun Watson stands credibly accused of sexual assault by 16 different women — potentially heading to two dozen women! — and there’s barely a whisper of coverage.
How does this happen, not just in sports, where it should be a top story, but also in the American news media in general, where stories like these frequently lead national newscasts?
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.
Dare to analyze a case like this and a sports media member risks his or her own cancellation by the angry and aggrieved identity.
While the woke sports media might claim to revile capitalists, they’ve made an interesting choice: rather than risk their gravy train of wokedom coming to a screeching halt, they’ve gone silent. Most have choosen to ignore the entire Watson story.
Witness the always opinionated Jemele Hill, patron saint of sports media wokeness, who hasn’t uttered a single word of opinion about 16 minority women suing Deshaun Watson for sexual assault. Isn’t this exactly what #metoo supposedly existed for? So that mostly powerless women could stand up to the powerful starting quarterback with the hundred million dollar contract? When Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh stood accused of teenage sexual assault — despite no evidence that Kavanaugh had ever met his accuser in his life — Hill and her woke supporters in sports media took to their Twitter accounts to proclaim their support for the woman, even though there were no facts to support her other than her sex. (And Kavanaugh’s own politics).
Deshaun Watson is far more credibly accused of sexual assault — BY 16 DIFFERENT WOMEN — than Brett Kavanaugh ever was by a single woman. Indeed, President Joe Biden was far more credibly accused than Kavanaugh too, but that’s another story entirely — and yet Jemele and her coterie of perpetually offended cancel culture stalwarts say nothing at all about Watson. The hypocrisy, of course, is deafening.
Would Hill and her woke compatriots be so silent if, for instance, Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen stood accused of sexually assaulting 16 mostly minority masseuses? Or would they have immediately screamed to the high heavens about how this was reflective of Allen’s white privilege and demanded immediate punishment and retribution for his alleged actions?
I think you know the answer.
And it’s not just Hill, of course. It’s the entire cottage industry of identity politics obsessives who have stormed the sports media gates and left almost everyone in our industry afraid to open their mouths or send a tweet for fear of the woke mob descending upon them for their thought police crimes.
The problems with identity politics — and its kissing cousin cancel culture — are legion, but they become most pronounced when two protected identities collide like this, rendering the woke narrative null and void. What happens, in essence, when there is no easy villain? The woke narrative collapses upon itself.
And powerful figures like Deshaun Watson end up being the beneficiaries.
Let’s consider the scenarios at play here.
Unlike my woke brethren in sports media, I’m consistent in my logic and analysis no matter the race, gender, ethnicity or the sexuality of the accused. I defended Zeke Elliott to the high heavens when he faced an accusation of domestic violence and was suspended for six games. I’ve spent over a decade ridiculing the NFL’s personal conduct policy as the worst decision made by any NFL commissioner ever. And, significantly, when everyone else was running around supporting the #believallwomen hashtag during the Kavanaugh judiciary hearings, I pointed out that believing all women, or all men for that matter, was the antithesis of everything the American justice system stands for.
Lady Justice is blind for a significant reason, not because she’s ignoring the facts before her in court, but because we endeavor in this country to judge everyone: white, black, Asian, and Hispanic, gay and straight, rich and poor, whatever identity you embrace or believe you are defined by, as equal under the law.
What the woke among us don’t realize is that they are the modern-day Jim Crow villains they claim to hate. They are arguing for different treatment for individuals based upon their identities. They aren’t on the “right side of history.” They are the modern-day version of the Jim Crow era South that led to the murders without punishment of the Emmitt Tills of the world. They are subverting justice based on identity politics, just like racist white people in the South did sixty and seventy years ago. They are dragging us back into the racist past, not leading us into a less racist future.
And the result is Deshaun Watson, one of the most powerful athletes in the United States, is the beneficiary of this modern racism fueled by identity politics. Because these women saying he assaulted them certainly aren’t benefitting from their identities at all. People in sports media aren’t rushing to defend them and commend their bravery. Watson ranks higher on the privilege scale and on the power scale than these women. But as soon as these minority women come forward to tell their story, we learn that #believeallwomen has an important caveat that we need to add as a parenthetical: #believeallwomen (unless the man has the same political beliefs as us and we stand to lose money if we attack him.)
Then things get complicated for the woke sports media.
Is it possible these 16 women are all lying? Sure. Anything is possible. But I have never seen it before and chances are no lawyer, judge or police officer right now reading this has seen it either. Conspiracies are hard to organize. Conspiracies involving sixteen different masseuses in at least three different states — most of whom have never met before — are even harder to organize. Especially when, and this is significant, Watson allegedly reached out to the women himself on Instagram.
He chose these women, he made them all players in this massive justice system drama.
I’ve never had a massage in my life, so I can’t speak to it on an expert level. But how many of you have had massages where you flew strangers in to conduct them? And if you found a masseuse you liked, wouldn’t you keep him or her around? Especially if you were a pro athlete who ostensibly needed these massages to help keep you fit and ready to play? After all, pro athletes keep the same athletic trainers for years, decades even, because they are so particular about who trains their bodies. Yet Watson was going through dozens of masseuses every year and couldn’t find a single one he liked during that time?
It just doesn’t make logical sense.
Think about this for a minute. Deshaun Watson went on Instagram, according to the complaints, and selected women he’d never met and offered to pay them to give him massages. He even offered to fly some women into Houston to massage him. And he did it for dozens of women. How many massages from how many different women does one man need? This doesn’t sound like a search for peak athletic performance, this sounds like Jeffrey Epstein.
What’s more, these weren’t therapeutic massages related to his career as an athlete. Watson had access to these kind of massage therapists with the Houston Texans. No, this wasn’t that. Watson was hunting for women he was attracted to online, for strangers, and then he was paying them to join him in private rooms where he then allegedly pressured them into sexual activity after arriving nearly fully nude for the massages they were there to provide.
That’s the very definition, if you read the complaints, of predatory sexual behavior.
And he likely did this so there would be no witnesses to his actions, so it was just his word against the masseuse’s word. This wasn’t New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft getting caught on tape getting a happy ending at a public Florida spa. Watson guaranteed that everything he did happened behind closed doors with zero witnesses.
Why did he do this? Well, there’s an easy theory. Who were people going to believe if things went awry, if the women didn’t do this bidding? The wealthy, star quarterback with a reputation of gold or the powerless mostly minority masseuses without very much money and with no public profile? As soon as they raised an issue at all, what would the first response be? You’ve already seen it all over social media and you’ve already heard it from Watson’s own attorney and agent: they were just shaking down Watson for money.
But if that’s true, and again, we’ll have to wait and see for sure whether it’s true or not, why has no other athlete in American history ever had this many women accuse him of sexual assault via lawsuits before? If it’s that easy to extort famous athletes, why haven’t others been extorted like this before?
These are all important and interesting questions that a free and unrestrained sports media should be asking. But chances are OutKick will be the only place you see asking them. Why is that? Because the Deshaun Watson case is exposing anew the echo chamber that the sports media has become. Not everyone agrees with the ascendant victimization culture, but everyone knows that if you stand up to it, the woke mob will put you squarely in their sights.
The media, in my opinion, should exist to expose hypocrisies and expose the logical fallacies of the powerful. That’s what should be happening here.
When you make everything about identity politics, sooner or later the protected identities collide. And when there’s no easy villain to blame, all the usual suspects go silent because it blows up their preconceived narratives. There should be many in sports media pointing out these issues. Instead, it’s just OutKick.
Because ultimately there are only two options here: either Deshaun Watson is a sexual predator or these 16 women are all liars.
These are the stakes, and these are as high of stakes as I can remember seeing in sports this century.
Yet the American sports media — and the media in general — are mostly silent about this case. Why is that? Because whether Watson or the women are lying, one thing is 100% clear: the mainstream media isn’t prepared for either answer to be true, because it doesn’t fit their narrative. Powerless women or the black quarterback can’t be the villain. That’s not how these stories work.
So when the narrative doesn’t fit, you get silence.
Which is ironic because silence is exactly what Deshaun Watson was after when he booked these private massages and ensured that all these women he’d never met would be alone with him in private rooms when he got naked.
Deshaun’s no idiot. He knows that the media can’t call him a villain because of his reputation and his identity. But there’s eventually a downside to this kind of power: you think you can get away with anything.
Don’t believe me?
Ask Bill Cosby.