Mailbox: Leave Deshaun Watson alone. No, ban him from NFL. Readers have a lot to say

·16 min read
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson directs the offense during minicamp on Tuesday, June 14, 2022 in Berea.

Browns Minicamp 4
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson directs the offense during minicamp on Tuesday, June 14, 2022 in Berea. Browns Minicamp 4

Wowza! People sure have opinions about Deshaun Watson and the Cleveland Browns, and those feelings all over the place. It's a good thing Ryan Day didn't get another raise this week, or my Inbox would have exceeded capacity.

To summarize: It's the media's fault; It's the Browns' fault; It's the Haslams' fault; It's the criminal justice system's fault; It's the NFL's fault; Watson is evil and should be banished forever; Watson's done nothing wrong; Its' a "me too" thing; What about Ben Roethlisberger? It's the media's fault again; He's no role model; Be your own kids' role models; No crime, no time; What about Michael Vick? I can't root for the Browns anymore; I'll always root for the Browns. Oh, and remember Earle Bruce?

Here we go. Have more comments, questions? Reach out to me at bwhite1@dispatch.com.

On the Cleveland Browns and Deshaun Watson

To the editor: I love the beat writers that get their panties in a bunch. You writers are the biggest hypocrites and run out of things to talk about, so you start jumping on the lame train and start dissing your own team, or speaking out of turn. Watson messed up, but, honestly, I don’t believe half the allegations. You have no idea other than what you hear in the media. And its because of his high profile and the Browns that this is getting blown out of proportion. People make mistakes, and as long as he learns from them and pays his debt to society then he deserves a second chance.

Shawn Fee

To the editor: The Browns' new QB settled 24-plus sexual assault cases, all incredibly similar in detail. That is not 24-plus acquittals. It's a serial predator, paying off 24-plus victims to not prosecute him. I don't want individuals like that to be "role models" for kids, like Jerry Kramer, Clay Matthews and Walter Payton were for me. If the NFL lets him take another snap in the league, ever, they will be little more than a professional wrestling league.

Nicholas Russell, Columbus

To the editor: The Browns and certainly Deshaun Watson deserve criticism. However, when you are pontificating, you might point out that they are certainly not alone. You can look at the conference they play in, where it's been reported that Ben Roethlisberger made trips to universities and took college-age females into restrooms guarded by his bodyguards. Or that Baltimore won a Super bowl with a Ray Lewis, who was involved in a fight outside a strip club that killed 2 people and his clothes were blood-stained. Roethlisberger was even honored by the NFL when he retired, announcers almost crying.

Also I suspect that when/if Ohio State is again connected to unscrupulous behavior, something tells me you won't  be saying that they embarrassed themselves. I didn't want the Browns to trade for Watson, but it is simply small-minded and lazy reporting to not provide his signing in it's historical hypocritical context.

Phillip Nicholson

To Phillip: I'm not a big fan of the "but other players have misbehaved" argument. It doesn't make me feel any better about the Watson signing. And if Ohio State players embarrass themselves, we will say so. It happened a few times last season in fact. Once in the middle of a game when a player walked off the field and never came back.

To the editor: I have been a Browns fan longer than most of my memories, and I remember the freezing games and the loyal crowds all the way back to when I was a child. We are going to have to find a new team to cheer for because there is no way we could support a team that went out of its way to get a personality with so many sexual charges against him. Certainly, do not make jerseys for children. He is someone to be protected from, not revered.

As far as Baker Mayfield is concerned, I was under the opinion that the coaching staff and the owners made the calls as to who plays or not. Shifting the blame is pretty cheap, but is not as bad as hiring Watson to be your role model for Browns fan kids. Please do not ignore ignore our commitment to wanting role models for the children of Cleveland and their fans all over. It will be a quiet Fall at our house.

Margaret Winchester

To the editor: The year was 1966. The Cleveland Browns drafted TE Milt Morin from UMass. They beat the N.Y. Giants twice. Leroy Kelly looked like Superman. And an 11-year-old from Springfield, Mass., became a lifelong, die-hard fan. For so many years he remained loyal through thick and thin. When they went from the NFC to AFC in the 1970 merger he stayed loyal. He endured Red Right 88, The Drive and The Fumble. Still loyal. He endured the move to Baltimore, patiently waiting and hoping for a return to Cleveland. Still loyal. He endured 1-15 and 0-16! Still loyal.

Now, the line has been drawn. No more endurance. No more loyalty. Bill Nelson, Brian Sipe, Bernie Kosar, Vinnie Testaverde, Baker Mayfield, Leroy Kelly, Greg and Mike Pruitt, Eric Metcalf, Nick Chubb, Gary Collins, Paul Warfield, Brian Brennan, Ozzie Newsome, Jerry Sherk, Clay Matthews, Hanford Dixon, Sam Rutigliano, Gene Hickerson, Joe Thomas, Earnest Byner, Bob Golic, Marty Schottenheimer, Doug Dieken, Phil Dawson ... the list goes on and on. 56 years of memories. It all ends now. No more loyalty.

On March 19, 2022, he found a dumpster for all the hats, shirts and jerseys, all the golf balls, head covers and towels. He even traded in the golf cart that he had painted orange. All he kept was the ticket stub to the 9/18/94 game against the Cardinals.  32-0! Leroy Kelly HOF halftime ceremony! Those are more than enough memories, and enough is as good as a feast. It was a good run, but now it’s done.

Jim McQ

To the editor: I have been a fan through thick and thin. I can't believe it has come time for me to become a Carolina Panthers fan now. Apparently the Browns have more money than brains to acquire Watson knowing not just one or two, but 24 women accused him. So if Watson is so innocent, why did he pay 23 of them off? If you are innocent, you shouldn't have to pay people off. I will be selling off all of my Browns stuff.

Colette Glatzhofer

To Colette: How much did you make on your fire sale? If a lot, it might make Jim McQ (^^) jealous, as he merely tossed his into a dumpster.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson has been sued by 24 women.

Syndication Akron Beacon Journal
Quarterback Deshaun Watson has been sued by 24 women. Syndication Akron Beacon Journal

To the editor: The media obsession with Watson is what's embarrassing. It's been so incessant that to some people the allegations are now becoming suspicious. For others, it's comedy. One thing we know is this: you've helped make absolutely certain 2022 Browns games will be the most watched in franchise history. Why is that, and what role have you played?

You guys basically found your sports-world Trump. It's like a creepy purity test where at least one hit piece is required, along with squaring your shoulders, and "taking a stand" to please some hidden authority so your allegiance is never called into question by your employer, future employers or entertainment-seeking virtue signaling readers. In the end, he's been charged with with what crimes? None. And if he lived next to you, would you be fearful? No, you wouldn't. You'd just complain about the cameras, your colleagues and the news vans always outside your windows driving a tabloid story until another one comes along that can attract a bigger network effect.

I'm very excited about the Browns this season, and so are you. You don't have to do all this to exorcise your guilt for being excited.

Ty H

To Ty: Believe it or not, I have not yet met a sports writer who would rather write about sexual assault than football. I'm pretty certain that all who are covering the Browns would love if this story went away.

To the editor: I totally agree with you. I don't understand how the Browns could hire someone with that many allegations against him. Will probably be rooting for a different team, because I cannot stand behind someone who cannot respect the rights of all people.

Cheryl Leow

To Mr. White: Your article in regards to the current state of the Browns has put my mind at rest. From the format to the message to the overall mood, you got it just right.  Thank you for that.  As a Browns expatriate (was born in Mentor, which made me chose Browns as a kid), I have not lived in Ohio since I was 3. Living in Illinois and then New Jersey, I bucked the system by sporting the Brown and Orange and since 1979 and have ridden the roller coaster. One of your contributors voiced almost verbatim my feelings. I’d rather be 1-31 then deal with this dumpster fire we have now.

Thanks for getting it right.

John Tupper

To John: Two dumpster references in one week! Excellent.

To the editor: So tired of all the bad press about the Browns. People, raise your own kids, not TV! You should be your kids' role model. As far as our QB, no crime, no time. Super tired of the court of public opinion. Other football players on other teams did way worse and yet they have spots on TV, have won Super Bowls and they don't have people hating them. Grow up. And the public can grow up, too, with your first-world problem. Done with you and your double standards.

Daniel VanHorn

To the editor: The Browns' owner must go. His running the organization like a snake-oil salesman must be addressed. Authorizing the worst trade in the history of sports should be enough alone in its stupidity. Add Johnny Manziel, cheating with communications on the field, his hiring of incompetent GM's and coaches, his swindling of gas truckers for over a decade, going 1-15 followed by 0-16. Then Deshaun. The face of this once-proud franchise. The worst owner in NFL. I am close to 70 years old, a season-ticket holder since 1983. I live in Massachusetts. Traveled proudly supporting a team that I followed since 1962 with Jim Brown and a host of HOF players who respected the game, others and themselves. No longer a season-ticket holder and will never attend a Browns game again until the snake-oil salesman owner is gone. Take Deshaun with you.

RIP the once-proud franchise called the Cleveland Browns.

John Crowley

To the editor: I do agree with the whole thing being an embarrassment, especially with how Baker Mayfield was handled. It does show how the ownership operates on a moral level. Yet of the two issues, Baker is, in my opinion, the biggest issue of them.

Why isn't Watson at the top of the list? Well, as I look back at the NFL's history and also look at actual legal proceedings, it seems to be allegations alone are reason by some to end what is a career in the prime. I think a bigger embarrassment is the "fans" who think that multiple grand jury acquittals as well as how past suspensions were handled mean the NFL must step in.

How short your memories are. Our own Kareem Hunt was given a second chance via the Browns. Does he embarrass you? No? I guess beating your significant other unconscious on video isn't worse than alleged advances. Remember, courts have already said as much. Yet Watson deserves more than six games? Hunt only received eight. What about Michael Vick? He received the season suspension. He was only criminally charged and murdered a large amount of dogs which hadn't already been killed by fighting other dogs. Does Watson really deserve the same treatment?

We know that the list could continue going on and on. Yet let's move on to a bigger issue. How does the NFL doling more than six games help? Why the complete disregard for the actual court's decision or other high profile decisions by courts? Perhaps politics and ability of gossip has changed. I honestly feel six was too many and was given to silence the neo "me too" movement.

Nick Call

To the editor: What a joke. They have ruined the Browns forever. Who wants this except the owner? You need to earn respect, not buy it. Watson has not won anything. What a ridiculous amount of money to guarantee him.

He does not even feel any remorse for what he did. I have been an avid Browns fan and backer for 40-plus. This is the lowest I have seen. I will continue to cheer for the Browns, but I hope Watson gets banned from ever playing in the NFL.

As far as the coach, he is spineless. Win a Super Bowl without Watson playing would be awesome. At least I can for the Buckeyes.

Big Dog

To the editor: Just read Raymond D'Angelo's post, and couldn't agree more. I've only followed them since 1955 and am terribly disappointed in the owners and management. The way they treated Baker Mayfield was terrible. I'm ashamed to call myself a fan anymore.

Robert Kalp

To the editor: Took you a long time to bail. I am almost there with you in longevity. 60 years. My brother took me to the only championship I will see. Who knew? I grew tired of all the grief. I was getting too worked up. Like you, I know this latest fiasco killed any chance of winning. See if you can use your influence to get the bumbling billionaires to sell. They are the true embarrassment.

Stephanie Mallory

To the editor: It is a bit concerning that people choose to now use sports to determine morals and values in society, and also criminalize athletes who are not convicted in the judicial system. The "me too" movement, the social media (cancel culture) arm of justice has now taken a position in sports, yet when we as a country are divided about real problems. Where were all of these concerns when the Capitol building was attacked and people actually lost their lives? Not there, because many people agreed with the reasoning behind that immoral, disgusting, embarrassing moment in our nation's history. Now, I’m no fan of Watson personally, but I’m not going to condemn a man who the judicial system failed to indict twice for sexual assault allegations. Our beloved judicial system is what we should be condemning if we don’t like it and want change, not the NFL. This man is being tried by the court of public opinion because of his career and the fact that he is making millions of dollars. The people have found a scapegoat and bandwagon to now jump on until the next show arrives.

Wil Baptist

To the editor: Who goes to see a lawyer before filing a police report? The lawyer for the Texas team gets all these ladies together? There are so many women who are treated "inappropriately" each and every day, and the way this was handled was a slap in the face to every woman who went through something inappropriate.

There were just as many women who said that they weren't treated inappropriately, and I'm not hearing anything about them. So much for being found not guilty int he eyes of the court. But wait. He's a black man. I forgot things are separate and not equal. I was always told, "Don't cry wolf."

Inappropriate anything is unacceptable, but if found guilty. Or, in this case, not guilty. Where is there room for reform or forgiveness so that all parties involved can start the process of healing?

Bernita Washington

On Pete Rose

To the editor: Pete Rose is not eloquent and he has made atrocious choices in gambling on baseball, but how he could hit and hustle. He deserves accolades for his achievements on the baseball field, and in my book he deserves entry into the baseball Hall of Fame. However, I would lay odds that he will never make it, babe.

Michael Oser, Columbus

On the Cincinnati Bengals' stadium

Dear Mr. White: As an avid Bengals fan, I was disappointed to hear the news that the Bengals’ management sold the naming rights of Paul Brown Stadium. Until selling the rights to Paycor, Paul Brown Stadium was one of only three of the 30 NFL stadiums to have a stadium without some form of a naming rights deal with a large company (along with Lambeau Field and and Soldier Field). Some say that it was done to have money for an indoor practice facility, but we all know the true reason the Bengals didn’t have an indoor practice facility already was Mike Brown’s stinginess. The Bears and Packers had no problem getting an indoor practice facility. Frankly, it disheartens me to see the organization’s most important figure’s name stripped entirely from the stadium just for a little bit of extra cash for Mike Brown.

Matthew Schmersal, Columbus

To Matthew: The naming rights might better position the Bengals to pay top-flight players and stay relevant for a while. In fact, they're already referring to Paycor Stadium as "Pay Joe" Stadium.

Oct. 13, 1984 - Black and white file photo - Ohio State Coach Earle Bruce offers words of advice to Buckeye star Keith Byars during the second quarter of Saturday's game against Illinois. (Columbus Dispatch Photo by Craig Holman) *** Used in the paper Oct. 14, 1984. ***   osu football coach ohio state
Oct. 13, 1984 - Black and white file photo - Ohio State Coach Earle Bruce offers words of advice to Buckeye star Keith Byars during the second quarter of Saturday's game against Illinois. (Columbus Dispatch Photo by Craig Holman) *** Used in the paper Oct. 14, 1984. *** osu football coach ohio state

On Earle Bruce

Dear Mr. White: As “Back for More” (Dispatch, Aug. 7), smartly documented. Once coaching football gets in your blood, it’s tough to walk away. It reminded me of a coach from my alma mater, Sandusky High School, a chap named Earle Bruce, who after highly successful stints in high school plus Iowa State, Ohio State and Colorado State extended his coaching life into his 70s with a trio of Arena League teams. When asked about it, Bruce replied: “I like to golf, but not five times a week.” Coaches coach. Speaking a decade ago at a reunion of those of us who played for Sandusky in the 1960s, coach Bruce brought home the point, as only he could: “The fact of the matter is, I never worked a day in my life.”

Jon Armstrong, Columbus

On the baseball infield shift

To Brian: When any ballplayer not named Ted Williams insists on hitting into a shifted defense, I want to scream Willie Keller's admonition to "Hit 'em where they ain't." Some success doing that would make defenses play straight up again, and the problem would be solved. I disagree with abolishing the shift, which I understand is coming to MLB next year, and we'll continue to see batters keep striking out trying to hit home runs. 

Dennis Singleton, Dayton

To Dennis: Banning the shift would set off all kinds of asterisks and raise the ire of all the players whose averages were hurt because it was allowed.

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson incites strong opinions