Neither Deshaun Watson nor his representatives have said very much publicly about the civil and criminal legal proceedings that have put his career on ice (with pay) for the 2020 season. In a recent interview with Ryan Clark of ESPN, Watson’s agent said more than he has at any time since the controversy emerged in March.
“There’s legal reasons we can’t expound on it right now the way we’d like to,” agent David Mulugheta said, via the Houston Chronicle. “But the one thing I can say is I know who Deshaun is, I think people around the NFL know who Deshaun is. That’s the reason the market for Deshaun was still as hot as it was.”
The market was indeed hot, with both the Panthers and Dolphins seriously pursuing a trade as the deadline approached. However, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross wouldn’t authorize the trade unless all 22 civil lawsuits were settled. (As PFT reported on Friday, 18 of the 22 plaintiffs were ready to settle. Four holdouts kept the deal from being done.)
Regardless, a high degree of confidence lingers that, eventually, things will work out for Watson.
“I think anybody who’s met Deshaun knows who he is,” Mulugheta told Clark. “We know what the truth is and that’s a good thing about the truth — no matter what, the truth is the truth. Whether it takes one day or two days or a year to come out, the truth is the truth.”
Portions of the truth are inconvenient for Watson, but he hasn’t run from it. Yes, he had a habit of arranging massage therapy sessions with strangers he found on social media. Yes, as his lawyer Rusty Hardin has said, some of those massage therapy sessions became consensual sexual encounters. Watson has at all times denied wrongdoing.
“We’re pretty confident how this thing plays out,” Mulugheta said. “He’s super confident in how it plays out. He’s still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He will be when he gets back on the field. He’ll continue to have an all-pro and phenomenal career moving forward.”
Mulugheta’s only lament is that the public nature of Watson’s career has caused him to be heavily scrutinized and criticized.
“[In] today’s society, unfortunately it’s not about who’s right, it’s about who’s first,” Mulugheta said. “So it’s unfortunate but as somebody who’s considered . . . a public figure [there’s] certain things you’ve got to deal with. It’s unfortunate but we’ll deal with it.”
The not-right-but-first concept arguably doesn’t apply where, as here, it’s right to say that 22 people (and two others who haven’t sued) are accusing Watson of improper behavior. That said, many are making decisions on what did or didn’t happen without knowing all (or many) of the facts.
But that’s how the court of public opinion operates. The verdict is passed long before the actual trial begins, if there ever even is one. The manner in which the pending entanglements become resolved for Watson will go a long way toward shaping anyone who is undecided. Like most other controversies of our time, however, there will be some who will always believe him to be completely guilty and some who will always believe him to be completely innocent, no matter the truth.