The Browns proved they were fully committed to Deshaun Watson as their franchise quarterback when they signed him to a massive, fully guaranteed contract. Watson proved on Sunday the feelings of commitment are not mutual.
Watson completely let down his teammates and Browns fans alike with a decision that led to the team's Week 4 blowout loss to the Baltimore Ravens.
This is just brutal.
Most star players have the opposite problem — the medical team refuses to clear them to play, but they badly want to be on the field anyway. They're fully committeed to their teams and the pain of watching from the sideline is as bad as the pain from any injury.
This should be doubly true for quarterbacks, and even more in a rivalry game with the top seed in the AFC north potentially on the line.
But Watson wasn't interested. He was cleared to play, but he opted out of the game. He decided that rather than "anything it takes for the team" his approach would be more along the lines of "no thank you, coach, I'd rather watch our fifth-round rookie go up against the tough Ravens defense."
Obviously we can't get inside Watson's body and know how his shoulder was feeling, but this is a pretty shocking report. And honestly, it's even shocking that Stefanski would let us know about it. That could be a sign that, despite Stefanski saying he's not bothered, the decision rubbed him the wrong way too.
The Browns are in such a tough spot with Watson. He wasn't playing like a franchise quarterback, and now he's not acting like one. But he has a franchise quarterback's contract, and the Browns have no way out of it, even if they wanted one.
To give Watson so much only to get this kind of attitude in return is beyond frustrating.
It looked like Dorian Thompson-Robinson is not ready to take on an NFL starting job last week, but if Watson is going to put himself above the team, then it won't be long before fans start calling for Stefanski to hand the keys over to DTR anyway.
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