LeBron James took to Twitter on Sunday to let the world know that Deshaun Watson is back, baby. The NFL's official Twitter, though, would rather pretend that he isn't.
NFL commentator Dov Kleiman made an astute observation about how the NFL elected to share Cleveland Browns' highlights today. Watson threw three touchdown passes in a Browns win. He did not throw any interceptions, while his counterpart Carson Wentz tossed three picks in the team's loss.
Dov is absolutely spot-on.
Let's go to the tape...
No mention of Watson throwing the touchdown, and the highlight shown is only a replay that shows Amari Cooper. But, hey, it was Amari Cooper who created the touchdown on a simple out route. So it makes sense to focus on him, right?
Let's go to the next one...
OK, so the caption is simply "Browns take a 10-point lead" with no punctuation. That's quite sterile for the NFL's Twitter account. No mention of who caught or threw the TD.
And, once again, the highlight isn't the live version of the play, but rather a replay that shows the route of the wide receiver. You see Watson for a split-second, but as Dov points out you don't see him throw the pass.
Notice also that the commentator, Fox's Mark Schlereth, is talking only about the receiver. No mention of Watson in either of the first two clips because of how they're cut. I'm guessing Schlereth probably at least mentioned Watson at some point.
How about one more?
OK, come on now. A five-second highlight (the shortest one I saw on their Twitter all day, FYI) of just Amari Cooper reaching the ball into the endzone. No mention of Watson. No punctuation, again.
NFL Twitter account treats Watson VERY differently from other QBs
But maybe that's just how the NFL's Twitter account generally shares highlights. I can tell you this: it isn't.
But, hey, I'm a "don't tell me, show me" guy. So, I will be happy to "show you."
Mike Evans had three touchdowns today. Seems like that would be the focus of sharing his highlights, right?
So, we've got Brady's name in there and it's even ahead of Evans name. Not only that, it's the full live-version highlight. Later, they even shared a highlight package that REALLY focused on Brady.
OK, but that's Tom Brady. Of course they're going to share his highlights. What about his counterpart Sam Darnold?
Oh, OK. So an entire highlight package dedicated to Darnold. Got it.
I could stop there, but this is too much fun. I started scrolling through the NFL's entire Twitter feed from today and I can confidently announce they actively edited Deshaun Watson out.
"Mac to Meyers." Yes, they mentioned Mac Jones part in this touchdown. It's the live highlight, not some replay of just the catch.
This play was very similar to the Watson to People-Jones play. Yet, we get the actual highlight and mention of Mahomes in the tweet.
Zero mention of who caught this pass and complete focus on quarterback Russell Wilson. And, yes, the regular highlight.
Hey look! Another highlight of a touchdown pass that includes the quarterback and the live broadcast play! Are you sensing a pattern, yet?
NFL Twitter account is on a first-name basis with Teddy Bridgewater.
No question NFL Twitter actively editing out Deshaun Watson
As you can see, they worked very hard to keep Deshaun Watson out of the highlights and out of the tweets. The tweets about other quarterbacks had capital letters, punctuation and/or emojis. Tweets about the Browns mostly did not.
It will be interesting to see if that continues. Watson is an NFL quarterback. They suspended him for 11 games, he served his punishment, and he has returned. Whether or not you like it, he's going to be around.
And it's pretty clear the employee running the NFL's official Twitter account doesn't like it.