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Note: This story contains accounts of sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or at https://www.rainn.org
Many already know at this point but on Friday, the Cleveland Browns were able to acquire Deshaun Watson along with a 2024 fifth-round pick from the Houston Texans for three first-round picks in 2022, 2023 and 2024 as well as a 2023 third-round pick and a 2024 fourth-round pick. The Browns are set to give Watson a new five-year, $230 million contract and would receive $184 million over the first four years of his new contract. The full $230 million is guaranteed, setting a record for the highest guarantee given to any NFL player.
Cleveland was able to get who they deemed was a quarterback that will help them win a Super Bowl next season in Watson. Oddsmakers seem to agree, with the Browns' odds to win the Super Bowl went from 40-1 to 20-1, while their odds to win the AFC moved from 18-1 to 10-1, following the news that Watson chose Cleveland as his preferred destination. That's why the Browns paid Watson so handsomely and also how, according to sources, Cleveland was able to go from being sheep to becoming the shepherd in the Watson sweepstakes.
Clearly, obtaining Watson will cost the Browns a pretty penny. But, to them, that's the price of winning in today's NFL for Cleveland, who have never tasted success since returning to the shores of Lake Erie. Watson's contract won't ever strain the Browns financially, especially when they start winning right away and scrap their way to a Super Bowl title. But, what Cleveland went bankrupt on almost immediately when they obtained Watson was any remaining semblance of morals. With the Browns obtaining Watson, the notion is reinforced once again that it doesn't matter what you do to women, the league will always have a place for you.
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In case you weren't paying close enough attention over the last week, even though he's not facing criminal charges – it does not mean Watson is innocent. Instead, it means not enough evidence was presented for a grand jury to decline to indict him. Mind you, Watson elected to invoke the Fifth Amendment and that's why he won't face any criminal charges. According to RAINN, the largest anti-sexual violence group in the country, of every 1,000 cases of sexual assault, only 310 are reported to police, and of those, only 50 lead to an arrest, and 28 of those end in a conviction. In that way, Watson's case is no different than nearly every single sexual assault case in this country, which underscores the fundamental problem our justice system has with believing women and prosecuting sexual crimes.
Multiple women in your life have been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted. Maybe it reached a level of criminality as defined by local law, but, unfortunately, maybe it didn't as well. But the mental and emotional scars have stayed with them for years since. So, even though the world knows Watson, his accusers are anonymous. We cannot use that as permission to be callous. Watson has all the resources provided by his status, his celebrity and his wealth. His accusers had and still only have legal representation and their stories.
New Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson spent last season on the sidelines due in part to 22 lawsuits over varying degrees of sexual assault and misconduct. He was rewarded with a new team and the most guaranteed money in NFL history.
As uncomfortable as it may make some people and as easy as it is to look away, you cannot ignore what Watson was accused of. You also cannot ignore what the Browns did either. Cleveland is thumbing their nose at those 22 women and reminding us why so few women come forward with accusations, to begin with. Undoubtedly, the women the Browns are insulting include members of their fan base, team employees as well as countless women in Cleveland who are afraid to speak up.
Despite this to Cleveland, clearly, none of that matters. To the Browns, a quarterback with nearly two dozen sexual misconduct accusations is a better option than a quarterback in Baker Mayfield who they deemed was immature and not an adult. In Cleveland's eyes, Watson was worth giving up three first-round picks even though he's a quarterback it may not even have for half this season because of those accusations.
But, what might be the vilest act of all from the Browns is structuring Watson's contract so that when he is inevitably suspended he'll lose only a minimum amount of salary. Since, again, reaching out to multiple professional massage therapists when players typically work with just one or two, demanding they be alone while they work with hm is morally sound behavior. Especially then you soon after allegedly exposing yourself to them, ejaculating on some and forcing at least two to put their mouth on your penis to others gets you a five-year, fully guaranteed, record-breaking, never before seen contract. Since the last time Watson played, he showed that he was a franchise-level quarterback, the one thing every team needs for success.
Maybe to help pay for Watson's contract the Browns and the NFL will take to Social Media pander to victims by releasing tacky, teal-colored Cleveland memorabilia to recognize and raise a pittance for Sexual Assault Awareness. It would be shallow enough and the bare minimum they could do to try and quell the initial outrage disgusting act of acquiring Watson. What they hope will bring everyone back to the table eventually is winning. With how oddsmakers see it, there will be plenty of that for the Browns in the future with Watson under center. It's precisely what morally bankrupt organizations like the Browns and the NFL would expect.
Despite all the eventual winning to come, people should never forget what Watson did. Sure, some of the women who accused him might be lying – but not all 22 of them are. There was a point where Watson was considered a serial predator for his behavior and that can never be excused. Watson not facing any charges sends another terrible message about how the NFL, and the rest of the male-dominated sports world, deal with female claims of abuse.
But, more than anything, it will make it even harder for women who have dealt with sexual assault to speak up. Due to that, it makes it even harder to support the Browns as a fan this season, and, personally, I won't be giving the organization any of my money going forward while Watson is playing for them. Instead, I'll be giving money to Cleveland Rape Crisis Center to help victims heal. I'll be listening and trying to be more empathetic towards victims so that they feel a safe space so that women who have experienced any form of sexual assault or abuse can feel safe speaking up. Winning may cure a lot of things but it'll never fix this.
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