Last September, Deshaun Watson cried after the Texans gave him a $156 million contract extension that was going to make him the face of the franchise for a long time. Months later, the team went 4-12, the front office made moves to upset him and he demanded a trade.
Watson getting traded has died down completely in the wake of 20 civil lawsuits being filed against him, with one of them painting him as a “serial predator” who arranged meetings with massage therapists through Instagram and then went too far leading to accusations of sexual harassment and assault.
No criminal charges have been filed, but the damage to his character is likely set in stone.
There’s Michael Perry, who sends a text to Deshaun Watson with a Bible scripture encouraging him to stay strong.
“To Perry, a high school football coach in Georgia who has known Watson since he was 7, the Texans quarterback is still the same man who is committed to helping others, the same man who donated his first NFL paycheck to help cafeteria workers at NRG Stadium after Hurricane Harvey.
“Deshaun is different in a good way,” Perry said. “I have never and don’t ever doubt Deshaun’s character.”
The report continues:
“For those in Watson’s tight inner circle — including his mother, other relatives, friends, teammates, former coaches, business partners and trainer — these allegations don’t fit with their interactions and beliefs about one of the NFL’s rising stars.
“It’s tough because I know Deshaun personally,” said Billy Voltaire, Watson’s private trainer and a former Texans and Denver Broncos strength and conditioning coach and performance therapy specialist. “I’ve seen him inside and outside of the building and behind closed doors. I know his character and who he is as a person.
“I was shocked, and I’m still shocked,” said Voltaire who was with Watson when the first allegations surfaced. “It’s not what I believe Deshaun to be.”
Many of the people who were spoken to did so while remaining anonymous for obvious reasons:
“Those close to Watson, speaking on condition of anonymity, say he’s had the expected emotional reaction to this legal imbroglio during private moments: feelings of embarrassment, anger, sadness and worry with some tears shed.
One of Watson’s closest friends since his high school days in Gainesville, Ga., said the allegations don’t ring true considering what he’s seen from him with women in social settings.
“In all those interactions, he’s always been a gentleman,” said the friend who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the situation. “My emotional reaction is disbelief. You’re shocked to hear something like this, so you want to talk to him and hear all sides of the story. I have the concern for him as a friend that anybody would have for somebody they really care about.”
Another friend who’s known Watson since he was in elementary school wondered if the sudden fame and fortune have taken a toll on the quarterback, if the superstar athlete needs to be more humble. Others insist that Watson remains the same as before despite his ascension to wealth and acclaim as a highly decorated and highly compensated athlete.”
“You meet the guy, and it’s not a show to keep his image up,” Voltaire said. “That’s really who he is away from football. He’s very consistent. I’ve been around him at events, and he carries himself the same way. He comes in alone, he leaves alone. He’s business-like. He hangs with his boys cracking jokes. He’s not loud. He’s not looking for attention.”
“He’s always locked in and not distracted,” Voltaire said. “Even during important business calls, he’s focused on his workout. He’s the opposite of what I thought a star quarterback would be like.
“I expected him to be a little more flamboyant and loud. He’s quiet, laid-back and to himself.”
This week, the Houston Police Department stated that it has not yet received any documentation or other evidence from attorney Tony Buzbee, despite his claims that he would send everything he had to try and get a criminal case going.
No new lawsuits have been filed since the total reached 16 on Tuesday. Buzbee has said that his office is talking to a total of 24 women who have concerns about Watson’s behavior during massage sessions.
“I have never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect,” he posted March 16. “The plaintiff’s lawyer claims that this isn’t about money, but before filing suit he made a baseless six-figure settlement demand, which I quickly rejected. Unlike him, this isn’t about money for me — it’s about clearing my name, and I look forward to doing that.”
Bryan Burney, Watson’s marketing manager, has stated that one of the “Jane Does” asked for $30,000 to stay quiet about their consensual encounter.
“Anonymity is often necessary as a shield for victims, but opposing counsel has used it as a sword to publicly humiliate Deshaun before the truth‑seeking process can even begin,” Hardin said.
Said Buzbee: “The case ain’t about money, and certainly not publicity or fame. I personally don’t need it, and these women don’t want it. This case is about female empowerment, taking the power back.
“These women who are stepping forward knew that they would face scorn and ridicule. They bring these cases for one reason: stopping misconduct from this defendant.”
A former teammate had this to say about Watson:
“Great dude, humble, always respectful,” a former teammate said of Watson. “Obviously, this is a crazy situation, and it’s hard to believe any of it is true knowing the guy and his character. This kind of came out of nowhere, but obviously everyone has to respect the situation and let it play itself out. The truth will come out at the end. Knowing the guy’s character, I doubt it.”
Despite all of the accusations, none of his sponsors have left him.
“I check in with him daily and I try to boost his spirits and try to give him words of encouragement and to know that the truth shall come to light,” said Sam Berry, the owner and founder of Lefty’s. “We’ve prayed together for a better world.”
No one knows what the future holds for Watson at this point. The NFL is conducting their own investigation and they’ve shown in the past they won’t hesitate to take a player off the field until things get resolved.