The Cleveland Browns introduction for Deshaun Watson went as bad as expected.
Deshaun Watson, who is facing 22 civil suits for various sex-based incidents, was introduced to the Cleveland Browns fanbase today and it went as bad as expected. Watson was joined by Browns GM Andrew Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski, the trio answered questions for a few minutes before doing the standard photo op. The Haslams were “out of the country” and would later participate in a virtual question and answer.
One of the questions from the press conference was about if Watson would seek any sort of counseling for any possible issues regarding the allegations. Watson responded sternly;
"I don’t have a problem. I don’t have an issue."
Later on in the afternoon, Dee Haslam of all people encouraged Watson to get counseling. So the Browns clearly don’t agree with Watson.
Despite the last week-plus of the Browns saying they did their due diligence in looking into Watson and the accusations, fans weren’t sold. Mainly because they never interviewed those who accused him.
The idea out of Berea was that this team believed in Watson. The Haslams and Berry both kept saying they were “comfortable” with him and the situation. A simple acknowledgment that they believed he was innocent should’ve been easy then, right? After all, they were vetting Watson since October. Berry didn’t give the media that, however. When asked, point-blank, if Berry feels Watson is innocent of any wrong-doings, Berry replied;
"We feel very confident in Deshaun as a person."
I don’t know about you, but if I think someone is innocent, I’m gonna say “yes, I/we believe Deshaun Watson is innocent of any wrong-doings.” Now some people will shout “what did you expect him to say”. To them I’d reply; the truth.
The damage is already done, the least Berry could do is actually throw support behind Watson, or say you don’t know. Anything really, other than a non-answer that ended up ending the press conference.
When it couldn’t get worse The Halsams found a way
That wasn’t all though, as the Haslams followed up with their own statements from out of the country with Dee Haslam talking about how hard it was for them and their daughters to get behind the decision to trade for Watson;
"We had to work hard getting comfortable with this decision.…Our compassion for those individuals is really deep, we know how hard this is on them."
If a decision is that hard to make, maybe don’t make it?
Jimmy Haslam then talked about how comfortable he was with Watson;
"Bottom line, we got very comfortable with Deshaun Watson the person."
Jimmy then proceeded to throw Berry under the bus, by saying that football ops were the ones pushing for the trade. Later on, it did appear that Jimmy dodged a question about whether or not his daughters begged them to not make the trade.
Jimmy did say he gave everyone, his daughters included, a veto but also said that eventually everyone “agreed” to go ahead with the trade. Even though it took some “longer than others” to make that decision.
Jimmy doesn’t know how a veto works apparently.
Haslam has been known to fire people who disagree with him. He’s been known to fire people who don’t see eye to eye with one another. So the idea that everyone just agreed without browbeating or coercion over time is a bit hard to believe.
To say this whole ordeal only made things look worse was an understatement. It really calls into question whether or not the Haslams believe what they’re selling. It took them five months of vetting to be “comfortable” with Watson. That word, “comfortable”, told anyone who was listening all they needed to hear.
The whole afternoon was rough, but Jimmy did say one thing that was at least accurate; that the two counties did not indict Watson and we have to move forward from that. He also stated that how Watson handles the civil cases will be up to Watson.
Going forward, fans will remember today.