The quarterback of the Houston Texans is a spectacularly talented football player named Deshaun Watson. In the stellar 2017 draft class, he was selected 12th overall and I’ll confess: At the time, I found it inexplicable that he went that late. But now after a series of accusations against him by seven different women, in retrospect I wonder if… how can I put this diplomatically?… if that people in the know either “knew” something, or if there were enough rumours out there to scare off risk-averse General Managers.
There are currently seven different civil lawsuits accusing him of either sexual assault or harassment. None of the women has been identified, but there is a common thread linking them: Either they were employed as massage therapists or they worked in spas. The accusations are consistent: Watson allegedly exposed himself or touched or kissed each woman against her will. At this point, no criminal charges have been filed and I’m no legal expert. However, it seems to me that if the allegations are to be believed, then criminal charges would be warranted.
There’s an old saying: “Where there’s smoke there’s fire” and there is enough smoke here to blot out the sun. Yet at the same time, you can’t ignore that at least some “massage therapists” should more correctly be understood as sex trade workers. Not all, but some. And for those women, finding someone like DeShaun Watson to take to court (last year he signed a four-year contract worth $156 million) is akin to buying a lottery ticket: If your number comes up, you’re set for life. But seven different women? My gut tells me that there is at least some element of truth to at least some of the charges.
This puts both the accused and the NFL in a very difficult position. If I’m Watson, I fight this to the bitter end. Prove it. Show the evidence. It’s your word against mine. And my recollection is that you were the one touching me inappropriately, not the other way around. The calculus is different for the NFL: It’s all about public perception. I believe the league will prevent him from playing until this is settled which means that if you’re a Houston Texan fan, you’re glad that the team signed Tyrod Taylor several days ago.