Darius Leonard compares coverage of Deshaun Watson and Chad Wheeler

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One specific narrative has emerged in the wake of the 20 lawsuits and counting that have been filed against Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. That narrative acquired some legitimacy when Colts linebacker Darius Leonard recently supported it on social media.

The argument goes like this: Media outlets are aggressively covering the allegations against Watson while ignoring the serious domestic violence allegations against former Seahawks offensive lineman Chad Wheeler.

“It’s crazy that people bash Watson with no evidence but nobody want to say anything about Chad Wheeler who tried to kill his girlfriend,” Leonard said. “I’m just saying now, D Wat got killed with no proof but this guy who tried to put his girlfriend underground @espn or any other outlets was [quiet].”

We weren’t quiet about Wheeler. We’ve written 12 different stories about Wheeler’s case, and will continue to cover it as developments occur.

But there are differences. Watson is a franchise quarterback, arguably one of the five best players in the league. He also has been a fixture in the offseason news cycle, as a result of his strong desire to be traded by one of the most dysfunctional franchises in pro sports.

Wheeler, in contrast, is hardly an NFL household name. Undrafted in 2017, he developed into a starter in his second NFL season with the Giants. By 2019, he was cut and landed on the Seattle practice squad. Last year in Seattle, Wheeler appeared in five games with no starts.

I’m not defending those media outlets that didn’t cover the Wheeler allegations more aggressively. The angle, as reported by PFT here, that multiple NFL players were unhappy with the league’s failure to take action against Wheeler didn’t get the traction it should have. But there’s an inherent difference between Wheeler and Watson as it relates to their profile. Wheeler is, relative to Watson, a nobody. If Wheeler hadn’t been cut by the Seahawks after news of the arrest emerged, he quite possibly would have become a free agent earlier this month and gone, to date, unsigned.

Given the allegations against him, Wheeler’s career undoubtedly is over. He’s simply not good enough to get a chance at redemption.

Watson’s career will continue. There could be an interruption, but he’s far too good to be sidelined for good by this — unless he’s successfully prosecuted for crimes resulting from the strongest of the allegations made against him.

And, yes, there are only allegations at this point. Eventually, however, those allegations presumably will be supported by sworn testimony. Regardless of whether Watson disputes what is said in court or in a deposition, that testimony will constitute evidence.

24 responses to “Darius Leonard compares coverage of Deshaun Watson and Chad Wheeler

  1. Wheeler is a nobody. Even most Seahawks fans didn’t know who he was. Watson is a face of the franchise QB who just got pain millions of dollars for his craft. That’s the only difference I see. If you want to make things about color, then you’ll find those differences… even if you have to stretch to get there.

  2. One big difference is Wheeler will never play another down. Of course Watson will play again, they both assaulted a woman. Multiple for Watson. Neither of them should ever see the field again. Stupid argument by Leonard

  3. The only thing that amazes me, is that there are still some people that will try to deny, deflect, and/or defend that difference.

  4. Leonard must not understand how NFL fans think. If you aren’t a Colts fan, how many NFL fans even knew who Chad Wheeler was before this incident? Leonard can insinuate it’s a racial issue but it’s not. Watson is a top 5 QB in the league. Stories on Watson move the needle when it comes to online clicks or viewers tuning in on ESPN, etc when there’s an update on Watson. It’s really that simple

  5. If Giants wide receiver C.J. Board strangled his girlfriend and Colts quarterback Carson Wentz allegedly assaulted multiple women through massages setup on instagram, my money says the coverage would be identical to the current scenario with Wheeler and Watson, despite certain roles being reversed.

  6. ” … Giants wide receiver C.J. Board strangled his girlfriend …”

    I’ve searched, but I can’t find anything on this.

  7. Darious, Darious, Darious… even Deshaun Watson would think this was a contrived comparison. I guarantee you if Tom Brady was in the same situation the press would be all over it.

  8. Curious to see how many fans are going to stop watching the NFL because of Chad Wheeler.

  9. That is an example of racism in action. You don’t think that he comments are about race? But when you start to look at it most people (who are not seeing race in the story) will agree that these are two separate issues and how they were handled most likely ( I don’t know all the fact, like Leonard doesn’t) does not have anything to do with race. But like I said when people are racist that what they see.

  10. If it had been JJ Watt instead Chad Wheeler, the coverage would be immensely different.

  11. Remember when Michael Jordan switched to baseball? Remember when DJ Dozier switched to baseball? Exactly.

  12. I get it, everyone, (mostly the media and the sheep that follow), is condemning Watson, they already have him out of the NFL, No One is talking about Wheeler and what a terrible thing he is accused of. Innocent Until Proven Guilty

  13. This is asinine. EVERYONE immediately condemned wheeler. No one was even saying to let the facts in court before vanquishing him.

    Watson has had similar coverage to Big Ben when he went through his trial in the media and Ben didn’t even have any papers filed.. Why? Not because of anything other than the position their play.

    Quarterbacks are the highest paid players because they have the most eyes on them. THEY GENERATE THE MOST HEADLINES.

  14. Among commenters here, I think I’ve actually seen more vitriol directed at Watson for the trade demand that the lawsuits. A lot of folks are still in “let’s see the evidence” mode.

    Regardless, this isn’t an apples to apples situation, clearly.

  15. I have no clue who Chad Wheeler is. But i know who Deshaun Watson is. Thats why the media coverage is different. Nothing else.

  16. This comparison is a dumb as it gets. Race, as he implies, has absolutely nothing to do with the media coverage afforded these two stories.

  17. Let’s be honest with ourselves…White privilege. Yeah one if a QB and one is a lineman, so we can kind of sort of understand the QB getting more attention than the lineman. But in terms of convicting them in the court of public opinion, white privilege has most certainly shown up…even if it wasn’t a conscience decision.

  18. Athletes should be required to take an IQ test before posting on social media. If they can’t break into triple-digits, they can’t Tweet. That would’ve obviously prevented this regrettable face plant by Darius.

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