Up until a few years ago, most people thought that Deshaun Watson was potentially one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and could possibly lead the Houston Texans to a Super Bowl one day. But all that changed with allegations of sexual misconduct. Now he has been shunned by most, was traded to another team, and has played just five games in two years.
With the Cleveland Browns eliminated from the race for the playoffs, the Vegas Super Bowl odds do not have to include Watson and his team anymore. But what exactly happened? How has Deshaun Watson come back from such serious allegations? And what comes next for the football star and his Cleveland team?
What’s the Story?
Deshaun Watson was taken in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans and took an underperforming team to the playoffs in his second and third seasons in the league. Big things were expected of Watson, as he turned into one of the most exciting young QBs in the NFL.
But then he fell out with the Texans organization, demanding new coaches be brought in, and ultimately a trade. That was refused, so he decided to sit out the entire 2021 season. That decision came two days before the first of the sexual misconduct allegations came to light.
Watson was eventually accused by more than two dozen different massage therapists of sexual misconduct. Two separate grand juries eventually threw out criminal proceedings as Watson consistently denied any wrongdoing.
What Happened Next?
Once the criminal proceedings finished and the over 20 suits were settled by the Texans and Watson, the quarterback was traded to the Cleveland Browns. He signed a guaranteed five-year deal worth $230 million – one of the biggest contracts ever.
Obviously, this disgusted many connected to the game and the NFL suspended him. After arbitration, Watson was fined $5 million and would miss 11 games. The NFL had wanted more but ended up settling for that amount, to the anger of critics who saw the decision as the league being too lenient.
On December 4, after 700 days without a game, Deshaun Watson returned to the field – against his old team in Houston. Being audibly booed throughout by the crowd, Watson played one of his worst games on record, even though the Browns ended up winning.
Although Watson played the rest of the regular season and the Browns did win again, the team was eliminated from the playoff hunt with two games still to play. He now has an offseason to work and connect with his teammates in a bid to take Cleveland to the postseason in 2023 – for what would be only the second time in 21 years.
Watson continues to be ignored by the NFL and its social media teams – even when he plays better, as he did in the final games of the 2022 regular season. But the fact that he is on the field at all is a damning indictment of the way that the league deals with sexual misconduct cases for many.
Continuing to stress his innocence, Watson has said that he will not answer questions about what he has learned from this experience on advice from his legal counsel. Without any signs of remorse for the allegations, Watson says he is concentrating on winning a Super Bowl with the Browns.
The whole ordeal seems like an embarrassment for the NFL, who would rather have indefinitely suspended Watson. Meanwhile, he remains one of the highest-paid stars in the league and is still free to follow his dreams.