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Sport Deshaun Watson suspension over: Why I’m willing to give him a fresh start with the Browns – Terry Pluto

22:10  01 december  2022
22:10  01 december  2022 Source:   cleveland.com

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CLEVELAND, Ohio – For Deshaun Watson, his new football life begins now.

Browns’ Deshaun Watson prepares to face Texans © Dave Andersen/cleveland.com/TNS Browns’ Deshaun Watson prepares to face Texans

That was the theme of his Thursday press conference as the new Browns QB prepares to face the Houston Texans Sunday.

Some media members and fans won’t be happy with his refusal to answer questions about his conduct with massage therapists and settling 24 civil suits.

As you read what I write next, keep in mind that I’ve been one of the biggest critics of the trade bringing Watson to Cleveland from Houston. I was outraged over the $230 million contract – the largest guaranteed contract in NFL history.

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The price of six draft picks – including three first-rounders – for a guy facing a suspension and who didn’t play in 2021 seemed far too rich.

By the way, the deal also gives Watson a no-trade clause. That’s what he had in Houston, which set up his ability to negotiate a new contract only a year after signing a five-year deal with the Texans.

I even wrote two columns before the deal was finalized begging the Browns not to do it. I didn’t like the deal for three reasons: a) The contract. b) The trade. c) The off-field problems that would fracture the fan base.

I’m not a Watson apologist, but I am a realist.

Anything he would have said about his off-field situation would probably satisfy almost no one.

Those who believe Watson deserves a fresh start would think there was no need for him to go back over that old road.

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Those who remain angry about Watson would be unhappy with whatever he said. It’s why I wasn’t surprised the Browns went with a “football only”-themed press conference. They needed to find a way for Watson to start fresh with the fan base.

IT IS A SECOND CHANCE

From the moment the Browns became engaged in the bidding for Watson, I was far more upset with the Browns than the quarterback. To be specific, this is an ownership decision.

Even if the football people begged for Watson, because of the baggage that comes with him – it’s not purely a football decision. It’s one that rests with ownership. Too many big issues involved.

The Browns had to endure months of negative headlines and stories as the civil cases became public followed by the 11-game suspension. These were all self-inflicted wounds.

Watson and the Browns both need to remember that.

Watson said he’s “always thankful” for what he has. He mentioned how his mother (a non-smoker) was diagnosed with stage 5 tongue cancer. That was when Watson was a 14-year-old high school sophomore.

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It’s extremely serious. I lost a close friend (also a non-smoker) to that disease. Watson’s mother beat it.

Watson’s point is he’s been through a lot in his life. At one point, seven people were living in their two-bedroom apartment.

Football has been his comfort zone. It’s lifted his family out of poverty. It has brought him tremendous fame because he is a three-time Pro Bowl QB.

Now, the Browns are giving him a shot to do what he does best – and also paying him as if he’s the among the best in the NFL.

HOW TO VIEW IT

I can’t tell anyone how they should deal with their emotions about Watson.

Assuming he continues to do well off the field as he reportedly has in the last year or so, then I’m going to write about him purely as a football player.

That’s why I’m going to suggest this to fans: Patience is in order.

He hasn’t played a regular-season game for 23 months. Watson can talk about doing lots of running, throwing, working out and now practicing with team.

But QBs wear a red “don’t touch me” jersey in practice. That doesn’t prepare you for walking into the middle of a NFL season where everyone has been playing full-speed, hit-‘em-hard football for three months.

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Sunday, Watson finally plays. Sunday, the Browns and their fans finally will see what they have in their new QB. But Sunday is just one day, one game. Keep that in mind, especially if he looks ragged. From a football standpoint, he’s in a tough spot.

At least, that’s how I see it.

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If you or a loved one has questions and needs to talk to a professional about gambling, call the Ohio Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-589-9966 or the National Council on Program Gambling Helpline (NCPG) at 1-800-522-4700.

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