Deshaun Watson Returning To Field In Houston Is NFL At Its Dumbest

Videos by OutKick

Exactly who thought it would be a good idea for Deshaun Watson to return to the field for the first time in Houston?

The NFL has a lot of really smart people who work for it. Roger Goodell is a great, hardline businessman. Jeff Pash is a brilliant lawyer. People like Brian Rolapp, Tracy Perlman and Jeff Miller are all very thoughtful people.

But somehow, they didn’t consider that Watson returning to the playing field for the first time in the regular season in nearly two years should be done anywhere but in Houston.

That’s where the Cleveland Browns are scheduled to play in Week 13, which would be the team’s 12th contest of the season; Watson will sit out the first 11 serving his suspension. And while it’s normal for a former quarterback to face his former team in a highlighted game — Russell Wilson and Denver open the season at Seattle on a Monday night, for instance — this matchup is hardly a rivalry game.

This is not a great redemption story of a former player going against his old team, like Tom Brady going to New England last season.

Really, this is a slap in the face to the 24 women — and, reportedly, many others — who were victims of Watson’s “predatory behavior” as it has been described by Judge Sue L. Robinson and Commissioner Goodell. This is a reminder that rich, powerful people can often get away with treating other humans in despicable ways.

Deshaun Watson faces reporters at a press conference
Deshaun Watson faces reporters at a press conference (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

I fully understand that Deshaun Watson was never charged with any crime, let alone found guilty. Furthermore, I am a big believer in second chances. As bad as the accusations are against Watson, he has a chance to help people in the long run.

Likewise, I believe Michael Vick deserved another chance once he paid his debt to society. By all accounts, Vick learned his lesson and has led others in changing the view of animal abuse.

But Watson coming back to play in Houston would be something like Vick announcing his return to the game in front of the Westminster Kennel Club. It’s something you just don’t do.

Thousands of fans are supposed to cheer for Watson and be entertained by him in the same place where he was accused of sexually harassing or abusing massage therapists?

Come on, don’t do this. Don’t put those people through that. Yes, they agreed to settlements and received money for what was done to them. In the legal sense, the parties have reached a satisfactory conclusion.

That doesn’t mean that everything is suddenly OK and that Watson should get to make his “triumphant” return to the game at the scene of his “predatory behavior.” The fact is that Watson took advantage of these women. He used his power, money and fame to do something that was, at best, just plain creepy.

While Watson may be as “innocent” as he claims, there’s no question what he did was a stupid perversion of his standing as a prominent athlete. Anyone with common sense or common decency knows that.

By allowing this to happen, the NFL is turning this into a spectacle where the victims get their noses rubbed in it. Inevitably, the victims have to be asked how they feel about this happening in their backyard. They have to choose whether to deal with the public scrutiny again, including the questions from some people about what really happened.

For them, it should be over and they should be allowed to move on in whatever way they choose. Deshaun Watson shouldn’t get to feel the joy of returning to the field in front of them. He should get to return, just not in this place.

It is, in short, classless.

Written by Jason Cole

Jason Cole has covered or written about pro football since 1992. He is one of 49 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and has served as a selector since 2013. Cole has worked for publications such as Bleacher Report, Yahoo! Sports, The Miami Herald, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, and started his career with the Peninsula Times-Tribune in Palo Alto. Cole’s five-year investigation of Reggie Bush and the University of Southern California resulted in Bush becoming the only player to ever relinquish his Heisman Trophy and USC losing its 2004 national championship.


Leave a Reply
  1. Ok enough now. People act like he is a serial rapist. He simply asked massage therapist to give him a happy ending. Or so he’s been accused of, there’s yet to be any proof. Anyhow there’s not a man in the world who has received a massage who hasn’t fantasized about getting a happy ending. If people are really that offended by Watson asking women he’s paying for a lil favor then what do they think of fat drunken slobs at a bar who drink up the courage to ask chicks way out of their league if they can f*ck them tonight?

Leave a Reply