It has been over two months since we first heard about the initial allegations, and eventual lawsuits accusing Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual assault and sexual misconduct.
Houston attorney Tony Buzbee filed the first suit on March 16, on behalf of his client [Ashley Solice], who would be the first of 22 to follow her lead. Over the following three weeks it felt like there was breaking news about the case every day. The Watson allegations were at the top of every [sports] news show right up until April 5th, when the 22nd and final lawsuit was filed by Mr. Buzbee.
Now, we get updates here and there almost randomly but at nowhere near the rate of what we got within the first couple weeks of this story breaking. At this point, it feels like everyone involved with the case has fallen off the face of the planet. That includes the attorneys for both sides.
Last Friday [May 21], news broke that Texans owner Cal McNair’s personal attorney tried to arrange a mediation between Watson’s legal team, led by prominent Houston attorney Rusty Hardin, and the legal representation of Watson’s 22 accusers.
Situations like this that are continually evolving can be hard to keep track of. There are usually so many moving parts with this type of case, plus when it involves someone in the public spotlight, like Watson, that makes it even more complicated when trying to navigate the legal proceedings.
The court of public opinion is still pretty much split on this matter. Initially many people raised an eyebrow at the fact that only civil suits were being filed. As the number of women continued to pile up it became harder and harder to believe that all 22 plaintiffs were taking part in a big-money grab. One, two, maybe even three or four, but 22? For most, it is hard to fathom that all 22 women are lying.
And just because we’re looking at primarily civil suits here does not automatically mean nothing “actually” happened. It’s far too easy to write these women off in that way. They deserve their day in court just as Watson deserves his day and his right to defend himself in court.
What makes this case so tough to wrap one’s head around, as well as bizarre, is that Watson’s reputation as a player, and most importantly, as a person was impeccable. Before 2021 it would have to tough to find anyone, especially someone in Houston to speak ill of Watson in any manner. We know better now, but no one in or around the NFL seems to have seen this coming.
You only ever heard great, glowing praise for Watson before all of this. With Aaron Hernandez, there had been grumblings about him and some of the extracurricular activities he may or may not have been involved with, dating back to his time at the University of Florida. And there have been several other NFL players over the years to get into legal trouble of different levels but, this case is one of the more perplexing, by far.
We haven’t heard much from either side recently, as Watson has yet to speak on the matter publicly since the lawsuits were filed. While Watson has not spoken about his case on the record, which no doubt comes on the advice of his legal counsel, Watson did see fit to release a video of himself working out just last week. Do with that information what you will, but it just feels like an odd choice given all that he is currently going through. It gives off the vibe of not being all that worried about what is happening.
It does make you wonder, though. If these were criminal charges instead of civil lawsuits, would Watson release a video like this? Maybe. Maybe not. That is something we likely will not find out. What it tells me is Watson knows something that those on the outside do not. Yes, that is a duh statement. But what it shows is that Watson is not all that worried.
He [Watson] likely knows the settlements are going to be wrapped up soon. Probably sooner than anyone initially thought. What it means for Watson’s future on the field and with the Texans is still up in the air.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell spoke to that on the first night of this year’s draft.
“We take that very seriously,” Goodell explained of the allegations facing the Texans’ quarterback. “Those are very concerning to us.”
The league launched its investigation soon after the first lawsuit was filed against Watson. Goodell briefly commented on where the league is with their investigation into the allegations with ESPN’s Mike Greenberg.
“We’re obviously following that and looking at that ourselves, independently,” Goodell said. “There are important steps that we will be taking as part of our personal conduct policy. When we get to that point, we will certainly make a decision.”
Since that time, we have not heard much from the NFL on their investigation into the Watson situation. Most feel that he will be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list at the least and miss a few games at the start of the 2021 season. It seems like the league is taking a different approach than they have in the past.
It looks like Goodell is allowing the legal process to play out before handing down punishment, which is far different from the way Goodell has handled these things in the past. Either way, you slice it, Watson will end up missing games if not the entire ’21-22 season.
It will be interesting to see how this situation continues to unfold over the coming weeks and months.