So, here we are, several months into this Deshaun Watson thing. If I’m googling right, it was March 20th when the deal with the Texans was officially announced.
The reaction was immediate among Browns fans and ranged the gamut from repulsion to elation. One valued friend and member of our writing staff simply wrote “I’m Done” into our frenetic Slack channel when the news came down. I hoped beyond hope that he was kidding. He wasn’t.
Like our friend, a lot of Browns fans turned their back on the team that day, and the days thereafter. And that’s alright, if that’s the way they felt.
Our forums erupted in a sometimes-intense debate over every conceivable aspect of the decision. I know some fans have left because they wrote me, and I could sense their sincerity. The cynical view that all will return is greatly oversimplified.
Some may return. More may not.
If you are reading this, I’m guessing you’re still with us. There’s something in your blood that binds you to this team, and you will persevere as the team you support will be (and has been) raked over the coals for their decision. Some of us felt we had the moral high ground against our rivals in the AFC North and will struggle with our new situation. I know I will. But I’m here, and not going anywhere. At least not willingly.
The decision to trade for Watson, if nothing else, showed a lot of nerve, if not a non-trivial amount of desperation, as the Browns tried to complete their 20+ year long quest for a franchise quarterback.
Since March 20th, it’s been all downhill, as new revelations hit the front pages and more arguments have been filed against our erstwhile Field General. Watson has steadfastly proclaimed his innocence against all charges, and his settlement should not automatically be interpreted as a repudiation of that. But everyone will reach their own conclusions.
For those of us who have been along for the ride these last three months, the settlement of these cases represents the first positive news we’ve heard in a while, and it’s only positive in that it’s a first step towards the conclusion of the Watson situation That proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is now visible, but there’s still more to come.
The NFL, involved as it has been in a disciplinary process, has yet to speak, and there are four more cases whose ultimate fate has not been determined. There could be more revelations, and the NFL’s suspension of Watson could be long. We could also be witness to a battle between the NFLPA and the league, as the Player’s Association calls out the NFL for a double standard when disciplining players and owners.
Still, today marked progress. And progress, from our perspective as Browns fans, is good. Perhaps things start to get better from here.