DeShaun Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins now have something else in common besides the fact they are both NFL stars and the first two letters of their first name.
Both will now face six-game suspensions at the outset of this upcoming season.
One of these gentlemen definitively violated his own body with PEDs. One of these gentlemen allegedly violated the bodies (and minds) of 24 spa workers.
One of the gentlemen has been extremely outspoken about his suspension being too harsh. One of these gentlemen has been sanguine about the decision, and has reportedly expressed regret privately for his actions.
If you were looking for a logical connection of forethought and atttitude, you’re in the wrong place.
Hopkins, a star wide receiver for the Arizona Cardinals, learned of his fate yesterday, and immediately took to the press to lambaste the NFL for a policy he believes is “too black and white”. As reported by ArizonaSports.com:
“I’ve never taken any of that kind of stuff,” Hopkins said. “If you know about what it is, it can be in shampoo, it can be in a lot of different things. Obviously, the NFL is very black and white, so of course, I wish the rule wasn’t so black and white. It is what it is.”
As for Watson, the allegations surrounding his suspension are a bit more nefarious. As the Associated Press recapped:
Watson, who played for four seasons with Houston before being traded to Cleveland in March, recently settled 23 of 24 lawsuits filed by women alleging sexual harassment and assault during massage therapy appointments in 2020 and 2021.
The NFL has three days to appeal the decision by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson. The NFL Players’ Association already stated it would abide by her ruling. If either side appeals, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or someone he designates will make the decision, per terms of the collective bargaining agreement. The union then could try to challenge that ruling in federal court.
The league had pushed for an indefinite suspension of at least one year and at least a $5 million fine for the 26-year-old Watson during a three-day hearing before Robinson in June.
Watson has let his legal team speak for him, and this is where things could really get dicey. Those who are on the side of the women maintain that if he was completely as innocent as he claims, why would he have offered settlements? Doesn’t that at least imply guilt?
OTOH, why did these women, supposedly violated emotionally to the point of being unable to continue in their chosen profession, not only accept settlements from Watson, but also from his former employer, the Houston Texans, who were named as enablers and supporters of Watson’s alleged antics?
What the league is most interested in, of course, is neither DeShaun nor DeAndre. Their first and foremost priority is De Shield.
The potential for advertisers and sponsors to cave to pressures from those sympathetic to Watson’s accusers arnd potentially cost the league millions in revenue is ultimately what will drive any appeal process. Given the the NFLPA is essentially punting, this would potentially turn into an elongated media circus, one that will undoubtedly be a distraction to the Browns–and, likely, the Texans, since these allegations all took place in and around Houston
The fact that Watson was not fined–though he will lose a reported $45 million from his fully guaranteed $230M deal he signed earlier this year with Cleveland–is already fueling flames of protest. Protests don’t translate to positive imagery, and the NFL Shield is the very definition of that. Maintaining its integrity–and profit potential–is what the league cares about most.
One suspects that this all ultimately may be settled this week one way or another. With this much at stake, there’s always a number to keep people happy. Or it could be enough of a sword of Damocles for the league to draw it out and at least offer the illusion of social justice championing.
The ultimate irony is that when DeShaun and DeAndre were teammates in Houston they won back-to-back division titles, and even a 2019 playoff game. Neither of their current teams has won a post-season game since.
If and when we can get back to looking at these two talented but tormented gentlemen exclusively through that lens, that would be a positive step.
Until then, one suspects this topic will be De Facto DeBilitating.