Tuesday’s comprehensive article from Jenny Vrentas of the New York Times regarding the Deshaun Watson situation also takes a look at what the Texans knew and when they knew it about Watson’s massage habits. It raises real questions about what the Texans actually knew, and what they reasonably should have known.
Vrentas reports that the Texans arranged for Watson to have “a place” at the Houstonian, where he “used the fitness club, dined there and also set up massages in hotel rooms.” At least seven women met with Watson at the Houstonian for massage appointments.
Watson has testified that, to his knowledge, the Texans weren’t aware that he was getting massages at the Houstonian.
Vrentas also reports that Nia Smith (who sued Watson last week) posted text messages and Cash App receipts from Watson with this warning: “I could really expose you.” Watson has testified that, days after these Instagram posts from Nia Smith, Watson found a nondisclosure agreement in his locker. Watson admitted that Texans director of security Brent Naccara put it there after Watson told Naccara about Nia Smith’s Instagram posts.
Watson also testified that he started using the NDA for massages he received thereafter.
Does this mean Naccara knew that Watson was receiving or seeking sexual activity during massages, or that Watson was potentially crossing the line? No. Does it mean that Naccara, a former Secret Service agent who surely knows how to assess and neutralize all sorts of threats, should have asked Watson some pointed questions and/or given him some candid advice on what should and shouldn’t be done during these massages? Absolutely.
The law calls it “inquiry notice.” You know enough that you should start asking questions. Naccara, by virtue of the fact that he gave Watson an NDA to use during massages, knew enough to start asking some questions.
That said, it’s not easy. NFL franchises have blind spots when it comes to franchise quarterbacks. They don’t want to upset the player. They want to assume the best, not the worst, of the face of the franchise. And Watson, frankly, was widely regarded as the last guy who would have been accused of this kind of thing, before he was.