The drama with Deshaun Watson is far from over.
In order for the disgraced and embattled quarterback that is Deshaun Watson to return to the Cleveland Browns, he’s going to have to prove he’s a changed man. It’s part of his suspension with the NFL. Watson must attend mandatory therapy and he must put in the genuine effort while there. Many people, myself included, feel his apologies are hollow. His constant desire to proclaim his innocence despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary is a sure sign that Watson refuses to take responsibility.
This may seem like I’m banging on the drum all on my own, but the NFL is actually in agreement with me. They feel that Watson isn’t taking any of this to heart. The NFL advisor on domestic violence and sexual assault, Rita Smith, has expressed concerns over Watson’s refusal to admit fault, that he’s playing the NFL.
She told Cleveland.com;
I feel like he’s playing us. He’s saying exactly what he thinks he needs to say to get on the field again. He’s not thinking strategically at all about ‘Did I cause harm to other people?’ He’s not questioning any of his behaviors at all. He’s absolutely certain from that last statement ‘I’ve done nothing wrong. This is all about people trying to get at me, and I just want to go play ball.’
While some will contend that due to one accuser refusing to settle, and so he’s not willing to admit to anything that may hurt him financially, others would argue that his reputation is worth more than money. At the very least it should.
Watson has to undergo third-party evaluations for his “pattern of predatory behavior”. Should he fail in his attempt to seriously comply with the treatment program, the NFL can and will delay his return to the team. At this rate, that seems very possible considering how little he’s actually put into this whole process.
Browns fans know this is a real possibility, as another embattled Browns player was in a similar situation where his suspension kept getting longer and longer due to him not abiding by the rules the NFL set for his recovery.
There is a scenario where Deshaun Watson doesn’t return to the Cleveland Browns this season
The lone accuser who is being held out is going to be held out until there is a trial. She wants to formally put into words what Watson has done to her. She believes that Watson has not been contrite in her dealings with Watson and his legal team.
Smith believes that Watson won’t change, saying;
In his mindset right now, I’d say that no, he’s probably not going to change his behavior because he doesn’t think he did anything wrong.
If he doesn’t feel he did anything wrong, why would anyone expect him to stop? Right now the air around the Browns is calm, as Watson is no longer allowed around the team’s facility for the next three and a half months.
It’s very possible that Watson doesn’t see the grass this year, at the very least, not without a major epiphany. If Watson doesn’t get it through his head that he needs to be truly contrite when he apologizes, starts to own what he did, and does the work needed to improve, the NFL very well drop a massive suspension on him.
And that should scare the Watson faithful in Cleveland. After all, we saw Josh Gordon continuously refuse to comply with his own issues. So we know the NFL won’t hesitate to drop the hammer on Watson, because they’ve done it before.
Gordon’s substance issues derailed his career and forced him out of the NFL for a spell. He’s still trying to find a semblance of what he was before all these years later. Watson is looking at a very similar road. He has to prove that he can actually take ownership of his issues and take treatment seriously. Gordon didn’t, and look what happened.
I doubt Watson will take this seriously, however. As they say, history has a way of repeating itself.