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Watson NFL trade shows integrity has a price

Deshaun Watson
Keith Allison/KeithAllisonPhoto.com
Deshaun Watson

It’s often been said that everything in life has a price. While some apply the saying to tangible things, the phrase is more often employed with something that theoretically can’t be measured, like, say, integrity.

Well, thanks to the National Football League, we can actually now affix a value to that, too. It’s $230 million. That’s the amount the Cleveland Browns are willing to pay in a five-year, fully guaranteed contract to quarterback Deshaun Watson. And you can add in five draft choices, including three in the first round to that total. That’s the bounty the Browns had to send to the Houston Texans to acquire the rights to Watson, a 26-year-old three-time Pro Bowl quarterback, who ought to be fully rested, considering that he didn’t play a down in 2021.

And unlike many players who miss a year because of injury, Watson enters the new season without a blemish.

Watson didn’t play last year because he decided he no longer wanted to play for the Texans, despite being under contract.

And while Watson may not be physically harmed, his psychic brand carries a tarnish, or at least to some.

Watson is a defendant in at least 22 lawsuits filed by women accusing him of sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions.

We’ll spare you the gory specifics of some of the complaints, but they involve allegations that Watson exposed himself and improperly touched himself in the presence of women who were hired to massage him.

Watson has categorically denied all of the allegations. However, 10 of the women filed criminal complaints against Watson, who has invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. And Houston police found the women’s assertions to be credible and reliable.

However, a grand jury declined to indict Watson. On that basis, a number of clubs ponied up to the Texans to make the deal to get Watson, who, by virtue of a clause in his contract, gave him the power to veto a trade to any place he didn’t want to go.

While it is certainly true that sports teams are not or should not be thought of as entities of moral rectitude, it’s not as if they don’t try to make you think they are.

Football coaches in particular talk frequently about faith and invoke a higher power when they speak of their teams and their sport.

And football players often speak of their teammates not as colleagues or co-workers, but as brothers, and their teams as family.

Perhaps the prohibition that many of us feel to go against our faith or speak badly about family is why so few players and coaches have had anything to say about Watson and his alleged conduct.

Of course, it also could be that players, coaches and owners are willing to keep silent about the possible misdoings of a player with Watson’s resume, which includes over 100 touchdown passes and close to 15,000 passing yards in just four seasons.

That silence from the NFL would be acceptable, so long as the words honor and respect and integrity come with that silence, because when it comes to people like Deshaun Watson, those words no longer have value.

And that’s how I see it for this week. You can reach us via email with your questions and comments at Sports at Large at gmail.com. And follow me on Twitter at Sports at Large.

Until next week, for all of us here, I’m Milton Kent. Thanks for listening and enjoy the games.

Milton Kent hosted the weekly commentary Sports at Large from its creation in 2002 to its finale in July 2013. He has written about sports locally and nationally since 1988, covering the Baltimore Orioles, University of Maryland men's basketball, women's basketball and football, the Washington Wizards, the NBA, men's and women's college basketball and sports media for the Baltimore Sun and AOL Fanhouse. He has covered the World Series, the American and National League Championship Series, the NFL playoffs, the NBA Finals and 17 NCAA men's and women's Final Fours. He currently teaches journalism at Morgan State University.