Bock’s Score: Watson’s Return, Not So Elementary

With sincere apologies to the iconic Dolly Levi …

Hello Deshaun, well hello Deshaun

It’s so nice to have to you back where you once belonged.

Welcome back, Deshaun Watson, returning to active duty with the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. And his return will be in Houston, his original NFL team.

What a coincidence.

The Texans were Watson’s first NFL home team. A first-round draft choice, he owned the town for a while. There were three Pro Bowl selections in five seasons. He led the Texans to two division titles and led the league in passing in 2020.

But he allegedly did some naughty things that resulted in 26 women filing civil lawsuits charging that Watson sexually harassed or assaulted them during massages. A police investigation followed and the Texans and Watson decided it would be best if he continued his NFL career elsewhere.

In his last game with Houston, Watson shrugged off his legal problems and threw for 365 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-38 loss on Jan. 3, 2021, to Tennessee, completing a 4-12 season. He then requested a trade which seemed a sensible thing to do given the controversy swirling around him.

Up stepped the friendly Browns, who packaged three first-round draft choices, a third-rounder and a fourth-round choice to acquire Watson. They also gave the quarterback a five-year $230 million contract, fully guaranteed.

A Houston grand jury declined to indict Watson in March and the trade was made. But the quarterback was not allowed to play for the Browns because the NFL, less lenient than the grand jury, suspended him for 11 games and fined him $5 million.

The suspension is over and the Browns, struggling through another difficult season, are delighted to be welcoming him back into the NFL’s good graces. And wouldn’t you know it, his return comes against his old team the Houston Texans, who are struggling through an even more difficult season.

Funny how those things work out. Did the NFL peek at the schedule when it decided on an 11-game ban for Watson? They wouldn’t do that, would they?

So, there will be no playoff implications when the 1-9-1 Texans host the 4-7 Browns on Sunday. But it will be intriguing to see what kind of reaction Watson gets when he returns to Texas.

And in a charming wrinkle, the attorney representing two dozen of the women who charged Watson said he would invite his clients to Sunday’s game to welcome their old pal back to town.

These folks have a great sense of humor.

About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock is a contributor with NY Sports Day. He has covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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