Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has been in the news all offseason. It started when he requested a trade from the organization mere months after signing a lucrative long-term contract.
Watson’s presence in the news since has not been football related. Rather, last year’s passing champion is facing sexual assault allegations from north of 20 women in civil cases. While the quarterback has denied said allegations, the Houston Police Department has opened up a criminal investigation. Meanwhile, the NFL is conducting its own investigation under the guise of the personal conduct policy.
NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent just recently opened up about the Deshaun Watson allegations in an interview on Fox Sports Radio with fellow former NFLers LaVar Arrington, TJ Houshmandzadeh and Plaxico Burress.
“I’m just praying for the young man, personally, today,” Vincent said. “I’m praying for him and his family. I’m praying for the young ladies that have come out. This is not good for anybody, forget the sport.”
A five-time Pro Bowler during his 15-year NFL career, Vincent has pretty much seen everything and anything off the field. While this seems to be a company line response, the former cornerback expanded on it a bit.
“But I think we’ve learned that every situation’s different. They’re delicate. You make sure that folks, whether it’s the accuser, the victim, whoever it may be, that there’s a due process in place,” Vincent continued. “And I think we’ve learned that over time, not that we’ve rushed in the past, but I think we’ve learned from the different cases that we’ve seen with this particular subject matter, let the due process take care of itself, then that’s up to Lisa (Friel) and her team to now make the proper recommendations to what direction the Commissioner and the Commissioner’s office should take.”
Vincent is indicating that the NFL should not make a decision as it relates to a potential punishment until the legal process itself plays out. In the past, that has not been the case. See Ezekiel Elliott.
Where the Deshaun Watson situation stands
Judges overseeing the allegations have required that a majority of the accusers be named in order to help Watson receive a fair trial. Meanwhile, the quarterback’s attorney continues to push back against said allegations — claiming that the accusers are lying.
“We and Mr. Watson take allegations of sexual misconduct against women very seriously, as we all should,” Rusty Hardin, Watson’s lawyer, said recently. “In the few days since his accusers’ names have been revealed, as was required by Texas law, we are discovering an avalanche of false accusations.”
Watson does not plan on settling any of the cases in civil court, meaning that they will go to trial. That complicates things big time from an on-field standpoint.
Without the legal situation having played out, it’s hard for any team to justify trading for the quarterback. That was magnified recently when the San Francisco 49ers dealt for the third pick in the coming 2021 NFL Draft and the Carolina Panthers paid a huge bounty for Sam Darnold. Both were seen as favorites to land Deshaun Watson before these allegations became public record.
As for the Texans, they just recently signed Tyrod Taylor in NFL free agency. Perhaps, this is a sign that the team is preparing to be without Watson for the 2021 season. Right now, it’s going to be all about how quick the legal process plays out and whether the NFL acts to discipline Watson.