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Davis Journal

NFL’s Watson gets a slap on the wrist – why?

Aug 12, 2022 02:03PM ● By Bryan Gray

An old adage claims that for justice to be effective, it must not only be done, but also be seen by the public that it is done. Therefore, if justice really occurred last week in the celebrated case of a National Football League quarterback, I suppose that the public and myself were blindfolded.

We’ve all heard of wrongdoers getting a mere slap on the hand. In the case of Deshaun Watson, he received not a slap but a wispy nudge by a feather.

Unless you live on Mars, you probably are at least slightly aware of Watson’s antics.  A resounding 24 female massage therapists accused him of sexual assault or harassment, with most cases involving sexually explicit acts while “relaxing” on a massage table.  You can’t be the judge of what actually happened – but you can also get a fair idea of the accusers’ credibility since Watson made settlements with 23 of the 24.  Typically, we don’t open our wallets to pay people for lying.

But that is what Watson claims. To him, the women were “gold diggers” who saw him as a cash box.  He admits sexual actions with only three of them, all of whom, he says, consented.  He also notes that two previous grand juries in Texas refused to indict him on criminal complaints. (But if that is the case, why pay the women for their silence? Maybe a better explanation is that people living in the football-fevered state of Texas care more for Watson’s passing statistics than they do the dignity of women.)  

Despite the grand jury dismissal, however, the National Football League knew Watson was a blemish on the game and sought to suspend him for a full year along with a $5 million fine. Professionals who treat sex abuse victims thought this was far too skimpy of a penalty considering that Colin Kaepernick was effectively “banned” for life by simply refusing to salute the flag. But a mediator studied the case, agreed that Watson committed the acts, noted that Watson “lacked remorse” for his actions, and handed down her stern punishment:

“Suspension for six games,” and any future massages must be done by a therapist approved by his new team, the Cleveland Browns.

No wonder Watson is smiling after his “tough punishment.”  For not playing these six games, he will lose some $345,000. But considering that the Browns are paying him a fully guaranteed $230 million over the next five years, the loss of income is laughable. To put it in perspective, instead of a $1,000 fine you would be forking over $1.45.  I don’t think Watson will be forced to take out a second mortgage on his home or purchase store-brand soup instead of Progresso!

Some of the Cleveland fans are also rejoicing. At a pre-season practice last week, one fan cried out, “We got your back, Watson!”  According to 24 women, his back is not the body part they are concerned with.

An attorney representing the women said the accusers were brave to speak out. “None of this would have happened except for one brave voice. One person can make a difference.”

Unfortunately, it appears it wasn’t much of one. 

Bryan Gray, a long time Davis County resident, is a former school teacher and has been a columnist for more than 26 years in newspapers along the Wasatch Front.λ