Last Friday, with a settlement of Deshaun WatsonBrowns disciplinary case suddenly became a possibility, Browns quarterback apologized to women for first time”impactedby his behavior. Immediately after resolving the situation on Thursday, Watson released a statement accepting responsibility for his decisions.
Then he basically said, “Psych!”
Like a defendant who signs a plea deal before proclaiming he didn’t, Watson insisted on his innocence in a misguided press conference. His agent, David Mulugheta, after deleting a tweet that attacked Judge Sue L. Robinson’s decision that Watson did not appeal, tweeted that Watson had always said he was innocent.
This is not what Judge Robinson found. In the ruling that the NFLPA urged the NFL to accept, it found that Watson violated the personal conduct policy in three different ways, committing four instances of nonviolent sexual assault. She found his behavior to be “blatant” and “predatory”. And now, after agreeing to a deal that extended his sentence by five games and added a $5 million fine, Watson and Mulugheta have retreated to the longstanding insistence that Watson did nothing wrong.
The league has yet to respond to an email from PFT asking the simple question of whether Watson’s remarks violate the terms of the settlement. Maybe he hasn’t violated the agreement yet, but the “I haven’t” attitude doesn’t bode well for any specific aspect of the terms of the agreement.
As ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter noted, in an inherently contradictory stream of tweets and retweets that carry water for Watson and throw it over his head, “Watson must comply with [evaluation] and treatment recommendations from a third-party behavioral expert to be reinstated,” and his “reintegration is dependent on his adherence to the treatment plan.”
“If he fails to comply, his reinstatement could be delayed, along with other disciplinary action,” Schefter said.
Assessment and treatment should include frank and direct questions to Watson about whether he truly accepts responsibility for his behavior. If he admits to having committed a non-violent sexual assault. Judge Robinson found his “categorical denial” to be untrue. She also discovered that his claim that he had never had an erection during a massage was downright false, given that several massage therapists who vouched for him admitted that he had become aroused during the massages that he had. they provided him.
That’s why we shouldn’t assume Watson will automatically be back in Week 13 in Houston. If/when the person providing him with the assessment and/or treatment plays the video of today’s press conference and Watson does not have a compelling explanation for his decision to insist on his innocence, it’s possible that Watson won’t receive the proper certification to come back and play.
It’s not a small problem. As Schefter noted, the league viewed Watson’s apology last Friday as a “important first step.” Today he took three steps back.
Our guess? If he doesn’t make a clear and unequivocal public statement of accountability by Week 13, there’s a chance he won’t play for the Browns when they visit the Texans.