The Cleveland Browns seem to be in a state of limbo as training camp approaches, as the team is still awaiting a decision by the NFL on whether to suspend new quarterback Deshaun Watson and for how long.
Watson has been accused by dozens of female massage therapists of sexual misconduct during sessions, and over time, the situation has looked worse and worse as more details have come out about the alleged incidents.
Plenty of Browns fans rue the decision to trade significant capital for Watson, especially since it came on the heels of a team official reportedly saying he preferred an “adult” under center to Baker Mayfield, who got traded to the Carolina Panthers days ago.
But on the bright side, Watson has tried to show leadership and build chemistry with his new teammates.
In addition, he has been working on his own body and game to get himself ready for the new season, whether he will be allowed to play or not.
On Friday, he was seen in Texas working out with a couple of other NFL signal-callers.
— MoreForYouCleveland (@MoreForYou_CLE) July 8, 2022
The Watson Situation Is Ugly
The acquisition of Watson, a three-time Pro Bowler and one of the league’s better QBs, who seemingly split the Dawg Pound in two.
On one hand, he is the type of elite or near-elite QB the Browns haven’t had in decades who could elevate a team that is starting to show signs, at least on paper, of being a competitive crew.
But the 24 civil lawsuits he has faced have given him and the franchise by extension a terrible look.
There are some Browns fans who don’t buy the allegations at all, but it seems the majority of the fan base has accepted that the allegations are likely true.
Watson recently settled with 20 of the 24 plaintiffs, which has only strengthened the sentiment that there is nothing bogus about any of the charges.
With the NFL being plagued by multiple scandals in this era and especially in just the past several months, some feel he could get the book thrown at him not just because of the nature of the incidents, but also because commissioner Roger Goodell may need to send the message that he’s trying to improve the league’s image.
If Calvin Ridley has to serve a year suspension, then Deshaun Watson should never play another down of football ever again.
— Luke Birch 🎃 #IStandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 (@WillowBirchLuke) June 30, 2022
Will There Be Light At The End Of The Tunnel?
With Mayfield gone, the Browns could be in for another frustrating season, the likes of which they are used to, as Jacoby Brissett will have to fill in for Watson if and when he is suspended.
But after Watson serves his likely sentence, he may have a shot at redemption.
Many of the Browns’ key players on both sides of the football are young, as is Watson, who is just 26 years of age.
Once he regains his sea legs (he missed all of last season after asking to be traded from the Houston Texans), he should have the ability to lead Cleveland back to the playoffs, perhaps on a regular basis.
If that happens down the road, the question is whether Browns fans will be willing to forgive him.