For Cleveland Browns fans, silence from the owners and Deshaun Watson may be better

BEREA, OH - AUGUST 18: Deshaun Watson #4 of the Cleveland Browns listens to questions during a press conference prior to a joint practice with the Philadelphia Eagles at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on August 18, 2022 in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)
BEREA, OH - AUGUST 18: Deshaun Watson #4 of the Cleveland Browns listens to questions during a press conference prior to a joint practice with the Philadelphia Eagles at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on August 18, 2022 in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns and Deshaun Watson remain tone deaf.

The Cleveland Browns and Deshaun Watson have found themselves at ease today. The NFL decided not to go after Watson with the fury he deserves and instead settled for a piddly 11-game suspension and a $5 million fine. All that for four confirmed counts of sexual assault, and another 20+ victims who won’t get their cases represented by the NFL.

Now, there is a caveat, Watson must go to treatment and must engage in treatment, otherwise he will be further disciplined. Just how much involvement Watson needs in therapy for the therapist to be satisfied is not really known. For all we know this may just be a situation of showing up for attendance purposes and little else.

Watson’s fine, as well as $1 million donations from the Browns and NFL will go towards a social program designed to teach “young people” how to engage in “healthy relationships, promote education and prevention of sexual misconduct and assault, support survivors, and related causes”.

All things a 27-year-old man should already know.

If that was it, I’d be disappointed, even upset at the paltry suspension, but that’d be all. That’s not all, however, as Watson, Dee, and Jimmy Haslam decided to talk. If we know anything by now, it’s that when those three are talking about Watson’s sexual assaults, they really don’t make things better.

Starting with Watson, he continues to show he is not in fact sorry for his behavior. Despite being found to have committed the acts he’s accused of by a federal judge, despite a federal judge finding he’s a danger to female massage therapists and banning interactions, despite his settling of all but one civil case against him, despite his lawyer confirming these things happening, and despite Watson’s vague apologizes, the man still can’t admit to what he did.

Watson told reporters (via ESPN);

"I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused. I take accountability for the decisions I made."

Before then doubling down, saying;

"I’ll continue to stand on my innocence, just because you know settlements, and things like that happen doesn’t mean that a person is guilty for anything."

He’s settled with NFL and he’s settled with his victims. If he was truly innocent, he’d be fighting this. He’s branded, for life now, and there is no eraser to get rid of that. Ray Lewis will always be the guy who people call a murderer. Ben Roethlisberger will always be seen as a rapist to many fans. Barry Bonds will always be seen as a cheater. Marty Jannetty…well he’s got a host of issues.  Trevor Bauer will be seen as a violent predator.

Look how long it took Mike Tyson to rehab his image. Look at Michael Vick. Riley Cooper is *still* the “racist white receiver from Philly”.

To many fans, these acts and not their careers, are their legacies. If you’re innocent, and you care about your reputation, why would you ever settle? More so, we know he did it. A judge looked at the evidence, declared him guilty, and the man still has the audacity to proclaim his innocence. Sorry, that train left the yard the minute you started paying hush money to people for NDAs.

Which is what settlements are.

At least it can’t get worse. (*Checks notes: Jimmy Haslam spoke.)

Dang it.

The Haslams need to shut up

Oh, Jimmy and Dee, what are you doing? During the same sham of a press conference that gave Watson carte blanche to give and later take back a half-hearted and insincere apology, Dee Haslam was asked about how she felt about his non-apology, saying;

"We respect his opinion. I do think in counseling Deshaun will learn a lot more about himself."

Later going on to say;

"Counseling takes time. You do not just go to a counseling session, wake up and understand the impact it has. I think it is a layering effect, and it takes weeks, months and a long time to get to where you understand so much more about yourself….He is 26 years old, and he is just getting into counseling; it is going to take some time.”"

Being 26 isn’t a good excuse for abusing women. Moreover, Watson was traded five months ago. Yet, he’s only now going into counseling? So despite the Browns’ claims to the contrary, he hasn’t felt the need to go to counseling since March?

Someone tell Dee that therapy isn’t a cure-all. You actually have to believe you need it for it to work. Did anyone tell her that today?

Oh but Jimmy Haslam isn’t going to be outdone, saying people deserve second changes;

"I think in this country, and hopefully in the world, people deserve second chances. I really think that,.. Is he never supposed to play again? Is he never supposed to be a part of society? Does he get no chance to rehabilitate himself? That is what we are going to do. … We think people deserve a second chance. … That does not mean we do not have empathy for people affected and we will continue to do so, but we strongly believe, strongly believe that people deserve a second chance; we believe Deshaun Watson deserves a second chance."

Someone needs to tell Jimmy that you can’t rehabilitate someone who doesn’t believe they did anything wrong. Watson still says he’s innocent. Can the Browns get on the same page if they’re going to just lie to us?

What’s even funnier, in a sad and depressing way, is that Andrew Berry and the Haslams remain mum on if the Browns will follow Judge Robinsons’ original ruling that Watson may no longer see female massage specialists.

Now, Andrew Berry deserves criticism for going along with this circus but at the end of the day, I believe Jimmy was the one who forced the trade. If more comes to light, this will change, but for right now Berry is saved some scrutiny, but not all. He still was the one who made the deal. If it flops, it’s not his job, it’s his career that he’ll lose.

Watson abused 20+ women, that we know of, has denied doing anything wrong, hasn’t admitted to what he’s done, has allowed his legions of gross supporters to defend him by attacking the known victims verbally, and Haslam thinks the man deserves a second chance.

For what? He’s not sorry. No one believes he’s sorry or that he’s going to stop his gross ways. Therapy only works if you see a need for it, and Watson doesn’t see a need for it. He’s innocent, why would a well-balanced man need therapy?

The reason fans are going to keep pushing back against this is that at the end of the day the Browns’ words are saying one thing, while Watson’s are saying something completely different. Until Watson actually starts taking responsibility, admitting to what he did, and apologizing with intent, then all of this is a dog and pony show.

Yes, until Watson is truly contrite, he shouldn’t play again, Jimmy. No, Watson doesn’t “get” a second chance. Second chances have to be earned, and a three-month vacation and a fine of less than 2% (1.7%) of his career earnings for putting these women through hell is not him “earning” anything.

As for the NFL’s decision, it is what it is, but the part that angers me really is the kid gloves that the Browns, the Haslams specifically, are using when dealing with Watson. It’s repugnant. Watson’s already destroyed his reputation, there’s no saving that. So of course he lies about being sorry and continues to pass the buck. That’s who he is. Yet, the Haslams?

They prove once again why everyone dunks on the Browns.

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