The Texans haven’t said much publicly regarding the 20-day-old controversy involving quarterback Deshaun Watson. On Monday, owner Cal McNair said plenty.
Via the Houston Chronicle, McNair sent a letter to season-ticket holders that addressed the situation in strong terms.
“We want to take this opportunity to address the complaint filed with the Houston Police Department and the allegations made in the civil lawsuits filed against Deshaun Watson,” the letter explains. “We want to assure you that we take these allegations very seriously. As reported, HPD and the National Football League are conducting investigations and we will cooperate fully. We respect the legal process and will continue to monitor the situation closely. . . .
“While we await the conclusion of these investigations, we express our strong stance against any form of sexual assault. Our family and the entire Houston Texans organization are deeply troubled by any form of abuse and we condemn this type of behavior. We will continue to commit resources to help prevent abusive behaviors from occurring in our community and ensure respect for all. . . . This is deeply personal to our family and remains a priority.”
The Texans, after initially resisting the notion of trading Watson, had seemed to begin to warm to the possibility of sending him to a new team. Then the first of 22 lawsuits was filed, placing everything on hold.
With so many civil actions, all being handled by a lawyer who seems to understand and to relish the value of publicity to his practice, it’s hard to imagine that this situation will be resolved in an expeditious manner. The pause button has been pressed on his football career; a trade is as a practical matter impossible. Indeed, his best chance of getting paid in 2021 could come from showing up for training camp and being placed on the Commissioner Exempt list. Unless the Texans cut him, they’ll owe him his full salary (he’s due to make more than $10 million this year) while the league decides whether and to what extent Watson should be suspended without pay.
There’s a good chance Watson won’t play at all in 2021. There’s a chance he’ll miss multiple seasons, if the league decides that he won’t be permitted to play until the civil cases are resolved.
There’s also a chance, now that a criminal investigation has commenced, that he’ll eventually be charged and convicted of crimes that could derail if not end his football career. At this point, it’s simply too early to know how any of this will play out.