Embattled quarterback Deshaun Watson returned Sunday to NFL action after an 11-game suspension for allegedly acting like a sexual predator with 30 massage therapists. The question that lingers is who performed worse on Sunday – Watson, or ESPN in its coverage of the event. ESPN’s Adam Schefter actually – and disgustingly – shilled for the creep, while two of his colleagues had different takes.
Watson was accused of sexual misconduct by at least 30 female massage therapists, and until playing for the Cleveland Browns Sunday, he had not played in nearly two full seasons. That included the first 11 games this season, and despite no legal conviction of any crimes, he was also fined $5 million by the NFL. Many folks felt this was a mere slap on the wrist and Watson deserved a much harsher punishment.
Naturally, boos came cascading down on him from fans who think someone like him does not deserve a $230 million contract to play pro ball.
As for the game, Watson started and he tanked. The Browns beat the horrible Texans, 27-14, but no thanks to the embattled quarterback. Defense and special teams won this game for Cleveland, while Watson threw for just 131 yards with an interception and a pathetic passer rating of 53.4.
There is no shortage of media criticism of Watson, but ESPN’s Schefter drew scorn for posting “his obligatory, agent-mandated ‘make my client look good and I’ll keep giving you info; quid pro quo.” That’s how SBNation blogger James Dator described it.
Schefter had written: “Deshaun Watson has made what NFL and NFLPA experts have described as ‘signs of progress’ during his mandatory treatment program, per sources.”
Dator jumped all over Schefter for those lame remarks, writing:
“’Signs of progress’?! Wow! You mean, he hasn’t sexually assaulted anyone or coerced them into sex acts in five months? Hell yeah Deshaun, great work dude. I mean, we can ignore the fact he’s not allowed to see any massage therapists outside of the Browns organization and he’s severely limited on what outside contact he has with women at all — he’s making some really astounding progress worthy of praise the morning of his first game.”
Dator continued by ripping Schefter for burying details of the ugly accusations against Watson, whose return was viewed by 10 of his alleged victims watching the game from a stadium suite. He also said that Watson scored fewer points than the number of accusations against him.
Sam Ponder was all over the place in her appearance on ESPN’s Sunday countdown show. She called Watson a “kind, humble and loving person” before labeling his actions with massage therapists “a sinister, planned, and habitual strategy to isolate and sexually abuse relatively powerless women.”
Ponder wasn’t sure if Watson is “a conniving predator or a sympathetic victim? A wolf in sheep’s clothing, or prey to manipulative liars who only see double dollar signs? Are we privileged enough to not really have to think about it? Unaffected enough to just move on and cheer as long as he serves his purpose to win games and generate profit? Right.”
ESPN reporter Jake Trotter focused on the obvious: Watson was booed on every single play by fans in Houston. He also reminded his readers that Watson has never shown any real remorse for the avalanche of accusation against him.
Dator slammed the Browns for selling their soul to acquire Watson from Houston last offseason in a trade. It’s “the most gross, reprehensible chapter in recent NFL history,” the blogger wrote. The Browns won’t make the playoffs, and we’ll all be “spared the full onslaught of ‘Watson the redeemed’ until 2023, when this team likely will be good enough to make the postseason, unless Watson stays as bad as he looked on Sunday … .”
Meanwhile, Sunday’s debacle “was just so damn disappointing,” Dator wrote. He had hoped Watson would not attract sympathy from a media person carrying water for Watson and his agent.
Those hopes were dashed by ESPN knuckleheads.
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