To be clear, concise and direct: I do not in anyway, shape or form condone any acts of sexual assault against women or men regardless of ethnicity, religion, or sexual identification.
What has been a slippery slope to talk about in recent weeks has been the sexual assault claims coming from over a dozen women, some who are massage therapists, against current Houston Texans star quarterback Deshaun Watson. Deshaun, along with his attorney, have denied all allegations.
If indeed Watson is guilty of these alleged acts, he should never play a down of football again in his life and be sent to prison. With that being said, many times in these high-profile cases, athletes are sought after for money.
Points of Emphasis
One out of every six women in the U.S. and one out of every 33 men have been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in his or her lifetime, according to the Bureau of Justice statistics (RAINN). According to recent statistics, only 23 percent of victims even report acts of sexual assault.
As of 9:03 AM Eastern Standard time, there have been zero criminal charges brought against Deshaun Watson. In fact, Houston police authorities have revealed they haven’t received any evidence that supports over a dozen claims. That’s not to say that Watson is innocent or there is not evidence out there; I’m just stating that such alleged evidence has not been submitted against the defendant. Just in at 11:19 AM, ESPN has just reported 3 additional lawsuits have been filed against Watson, bringing the total to 19. These claims revolve around Watson allegedly deleting Instagram messages and contacting women to allegedly settle these cases.
Rusty Hardin, Watson’s attorney, revealed this past week a plaintiff under declaration is seeking 30,000 in monetary value from Deshaun and revealed under the same declaration the sex was consensual.
Texas attorney Tony Buzbee has gone on record denying any conspiracies involving him and Texans owners against Deshaun Watson. Tony even stated during a recent press conference that he doesn’t know Cal McNair or the late Bob McNair. (Hard to imagine the owner of the Texans and a “super attorney” staying on the same block, in same neighborhood and not having any type of affiliation).
What Should the NFL Do Now?
If I’m Roger Goodell and the NFL, which has a history of inconsistency with domestic violence and sexual assault claims (Vick, Hardy, Rice, Hunt, AB), I place Deshaun Watson under the Commissioners’ Exempt list. The leave allows Watson to attend team meetings, work out, but he would not be allowed to practice or attend games. In addition, it’s a paid leave. This step is necessary in showing sensitivity towards victims of sexual assault. Furthermore, it institutes a foundation that the NFL has a zero tolerance for sexual assault. Yes, we understand the totality of the situation. Deshaun has not been found guilty and a person is presumed innocent until found guilty.
Should the Panthers Play the Wait and See Approach?
David Tepper’s first press conference as owner of the Carolina Panthers revolved around wanting to change a culture and workplace environment that suffered numerous complaints of racial/sexual misconduct under previous owner Jerry Richardson. The franchise that went through the Rae Carruth era, Greg Hardy era, and now potentially bringing in an athlete who has been portrayed by many guilty until proven innocent. No matter what angle you take, 19 women have come forward with allegations. How does it look for an organization to trade for a generational talent in the midst of sexual assault allegations? It not only sends the message that a player is above the alleged acts, but that the franchise and NFL agree by allowing this type of transaction to take place. The Panthers have a lot to weigh here. They’ve been clearing cap room and publicly stated they’re looking to improve at the quarterback position. The Panthers also have the overall number 8th pick in the NFL draft.
Whose to say Deshaun will be available in the near future? If Goodell decides to place Deshaun Watson on the exempt list clubs have no discretion or exemption. All the cards fall within the commissioner’s discretion. The process could be dragged out, and rightfully so, giving the NFL and proper authorities enough time to gather evidence and declarations to determine if there is probable cause to charge Watson or absolve him of any wrong-doing.
The thought often passes; Why would over a dozen women lie about an explicit act such as this? Why would someone go to these lengths to assassinate someone’s character? We understand the nature of these claims, which is why the Panthers should absolutely play the wait and see approach.