Op-Ed: Embarrassing that Browns and Deshaun Watson have learned nothing from 11 game suspension

Browns response to the Watson suspension was embarrassing
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson speaks to the media, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, in Berea, Ohio, after the team announced that Watson has reached a settlement with the NFL and will serve an 11-game unpaid suspension and pay a $5 million fine rather than risk missing his first season as quarterback of the Cleveland Browns following accusations of sexual misconduct while he played for the Houston Texans. (Joshua Gunter/Cleveland.com via AP)

From lovable losers to the pariah of the NFL. The Cleveland Browns have become an absolute embarrassment for all the wrong reasons. 

The NFL, and NFLPA both came to a disciplinary agreement Thursday afternoon for Deshaun Watson, suspending the quarterback for 11 games and adding a $5 million fine to boot. 

While there are certainly people who felt that 11 games are too lenient a suspension, it is a substantial increase from the six games Watson was originally hit with. 

After the report, it would have been a great time for Watson and the Browns to close this extremely controversial chapter in the team’s history with a level of remorse, apology, and understanding of the reason a punishment of this severity was handed down. 

That’s what should have happened. What Watson and the Browns ended up doing was one of the most embarrassing and psychopathic behaviors ever seen in a press conference. 

In a statement made on the Cleveland Browns website, Watson said that he was “I take accountability for the actions I made.”

Except when speaking to the media, Watson had an entirely different tune.

“I’ve always been able to stand on my innocence and always said I never assaulted or disrespected anyone but at the same point I have to continue to push forward with my life and career,” Watson said.

The quarterback also added that he was only apologizing to “everybody that was affected by this situation. There were a lot of people that were triggered.”

Watson was accused of sexual misconduct toward 24 different women in massage parlors. 

It’s certainly a remorseful statement that Watson is apologizing only because people were offended that a person of his stature was allowed to continue playing. What level of understanding is this? 

How could anyone agree that the quarterback was sorry for his actions? A statement published on the team’s webpage does not outweigh actual comments made to reporters. 

If anything, Watson’s comments in his press conference have shown he’s learned nothing, doesn’t care to learn anything, and thinks it’s ridiculous that he should be expected to learn anything from this controversy. 

The Browns Respond to Watson

As if Watson’s comments weren’t embarrassing enough, the Brown front office of Jimmy and Dee Haslem, as well as general manager Andrew Berry spoke to the media after their quarterback. 

If you thought that they would recognize the severity of the situation, you’re sadly mistaken. 

When asked if the team regretted trading for the controversial quarterback, Andrew Berry and the Haslems said that “We believe Deshaun has strong, positive qualities.”

A gross level of incompetence. 

The Haslem’s also added people deserve second chances, and that Deshaun Watson has been remorseful and taken responsibility for his actions.

Of course, if Watson hadn’t spoken to the media before the owners less than an hour before, maybe they could have gotten away from a comment like that. But Watson was anything but understanding. He was anything but remorseful. Anything but apologetic. 

The Haslems even double down on their comments saying of the ruling “I don’t think we had any way of knowing. We didn’t know definitively until today. I think it’s important to remember Deshaun is 26 years old. We expect him to be our QB for a long time.”

Truly the words of a group of people who understand how severe accusations were levied on the quarterback. 

The Browns have gone all-in when they traded for Deshaun Watson back in March. By doing so, they have tied themselves to a quarterback who is unapologetic in his actions and defiance of the victims of sexual assault. 

By being as obtuse as they have been, the future of the Brown’s front office, coaching staff, and players now solely hinge on the success of a quarterback who has failed to show any semblance of maturity for a man making over $200 million over the next half-decade.

The character of coaches, players, and executives is now in question. If character is who you are when no one is looking, what is the character of a player unwilling to take responsibility for his actions?

Years ago the Browns were pitied across the league as a team failing to win football games. Now, they are the pariah of the league due to their negligence and lack of care for those around them. 

Sometimes the best thing to do from a PR standpoint is to not say anything at all. The NFL’s response to Deshaun Watson’s increased suspension was succinct and to the point. 

But the Browns didn’t do that. Instead, the team and its star player spoke and quite literally made the entire suspension look laughable. 

While the increased suspension certainly seems like a step in the right direction, the lack of care and remorse shown shows that the suspension was, in fact, not enough. 

And for that, the Browns should be ashamed. 

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