The NFL doesn’t give a shit about women.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had to write that line.
Unfortunately, something tells me this won’t be the last time either.
Adding to the latest legacy of misogyny in the NFL, the Cleveland Browns gave a man facing 22 sexual assault and sexual misconduct accusations the largest guaranteed money in the history of the National Football League.
22 women accused this monster of sexual crimes.
Not a few.
Not a dozen.
Nearly two dozen women have accused Deshaun Watson of sexual assault or sexual misconduct. Despite this, the Cleveland Browns gave Deshaun Watson a five-year $230 million deal to join their football team. Not only is that the highest guaranteed money in the history of the NFL, but it’s also $10 million per sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct accusation.
On March 11, a Texas grand jury declined to indict Deshaun Watson on criminal charges for his sexual assaults. The grand jury didn’t indict him doesn’t mean he’s innocent. Sexual assault and sexual misconduct charges tend to be very difficult to prove. Especially when it comes to getting happy ending massages. Just ask New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. With enough money, it’s easy to beat a case in America. Again, ask Robert Kraft. Often times, sexual assault and sexual misconduct arguments become a “he said, she said” case, and that doesn’t work in court. Once Deshaun Watson was cleared of his criminal charges, the NFL went into a frenzy with teams in the league trying to convince Deshaun Watson to join their football team. Deshaun Watson is still facing civil lawsuits from 22 women, but that didn’t matter to NFL teams desperate for a franchise quarterback.
After meeting with multiple teams for days after he was cleared of criminal charges, Deshaun Watson decided to join the Cleveland Browns. However, the Cleveland Browns did plan for punishments and/or suspensions for their new star quarterback. The Cleveland Browns ensured Deshaun Watson’s salary would only be $1 million for 2022. That way, if he is suspended for the entire season for his disgusting and inexcusable behavior, the Cleveland Browns will only face a salary cap charge of $1 million, which is insanely low for a quarterback’s salary.
Here’s how Jake Trotter of ESPN put it:
“If Watson is disciplined, though, it won’t cost him much financially. ESPN confirmed Watson’s new $230 million contract with Cleveland will include only $1 million in base salary for the first year. In other words, if Watson is suspended, he would lose less than $60,000 per game lost.
That the Browns even agreed to a contract structure explicitly intended to circumvent NFL enforcement only underscored their desperation further.”
Sexually assault 22 women?
Choose your next team. Get a raise. And have a team willing to ensure that you’re not harmed too much financially by lowering your salary, in case of a potential suspension for … again … sexually assaulting 22 women.
The NFL is a terrible organization with a storied history of not giving a shit about women. Currently, the Cleveland Browns have the crown as the worst franchise in the league.
Here’s how ESPN spun the awfulness of the Cleveland Browns:
“As the franchise has illustrated multiple times in the past under the Haslams, it’s willing to provide second chances to players it thinks can help win games.
In 2019, the Browns signed one-time NFL rushing champ Kareem Hunt to a one-year deal three months after the Kansas City Chiefs released him when video surfaced showing him shoving and kicking a woman at his residence in Cleveland. The league later suspended Hunt for the first eight games of the 2019 season.
In 2021, the Browns signed defensive tackle Malik McDowell, a second-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2017. In 2019, McDowell was charged in Michigan with driving while impaired, obstructing justice and assaulting a police officer. Video showed McDowell fighting with police even after they stunned him with a Taser following a DUI stop. Two months later, he was found in possession of a stolen truck, leading to another charge of receiving and concealing stolen property. He was sentenced to 11 months in jail and three years’ probation after pleading guilty to the series of crimes.
McDowell won a starting job on the Browns out of training camp and emerged into a stalwart on the Cleveland defensive line. But in January, he was arrested on charges of aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest with violence and public exposure in Florida. McDowell is unlikely to return to the Browns this season.”
The Cleveland Browns have a pattern of enabling violent men who commit heinous crimes against women in the name of helping the team “win games.” Unfortunately, the Cleveland Browns aren’t alone . Check out Ben Roethlisberger, a potential Hall of Fame quarterback, who was accused twice of rape during his NFL career. His only penalty for forcing women to have sex with him? He missed a few football games. Ben Roethlisberger settled the charges outside of court, so it’s no big deal. Innocent until proven guilty is an American saying, so leave the guy alone, right? No. Settling outside of court doesn’t make a rapist innocent. It gives the rapist a chance to pay off a woman to not pursue charges.
Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer people considered role models by American society to not rape women or even be accused of it. What kind of message is that sending to our children? Go ahead and treat women like property, you’ll still earn millions as long as you can run an effective NFL offense?
Deshaun Watson won’t be the last NFL player to commit sexual assault against women. Look at the league’s track record. It’s piss poor. The NFL doesn’t care how its employees treats women as long as employees continue to produce for the league. If players can perform on the field, win ball games, and get fans in the stands, there will always teams that are willing to “take a risk” and sign any player regardless of his baggage.
The NFL continues to give rapists, women abusers, and sexual assaulters a safe space to earn millions. The only way to stop this disturbing trend is to hold the league accountable. But to do this, NFL fans need to speak to NFL owners and executives in the only language they seem to understand.
Something tells me Deshaun Watson is going to throw some of his new money at these women to get them to shut up. If he throws enough cash, they will. And who can blame these women if they accept a life-changing payday after the trauma and violence they experienced? Add lingering PTSD after being sexually assaulted and a country and media obsessed with football. A large sum of money to make these things go away seems worth it even it allows the not-so-innocent to escape their crimes.
Money isn’t the root of all evil, but it certainly enables it. If NFL fans continue to support these sexual predators with our dollars, nothing will change.