NFL senior advisor Rita Smith on Deshaun Watson: “I feel like he’s playing us”

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

In the eight days since Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson: (1) accepted an 11-game suspension and $5 million fine; (2) issued a statement accepting accountability for his decisions; and (3) promptly proclaimed his innocence at a press conference, the NFL hasn’t had much if anything to say about Watson’s lack of remorse.

On Friday, an advisor hired amid the Ray Rice fiasco spoke out, aggressively, about Watson’s attitude.

I feel like he’s playing us,” NFL senior adviser on matters of domestic violence and sexual assault Rita Smith told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “He’s saying exactly what he thinks he needs to say to get on the field again. He’s not thinking strategically at all about. ‘Did I cause harm to other people?’ He’s not questioning any of his behaviors at all. He’s absolutely certain from that last statement: ‘I’ve done nothing wrong. This is all about people trying to get at me, and I just want to go play ball.'”

Smith believes that Watson’s refusal to accept responsibility sets the stage for ongoing misbehavior.

“That energy is not good for future reoffending,” Smith told Cabot. “That that purports to me that he’s still a danger to people, because he’s done absolutely no self-reflection that I can tell. You don’t have that many violations reported from somebody who’s not doing anything wrong. . . . He’s doing something wrong in those [massage] sessions. He’s doing something inappropriate in those [massage] sessions. So he needs to figure out what that is and how he can stop it so that nobody gets hurt in that process.”

Part of the problem, as Smith sees it, is that Watson is surrounded by agents and lawyers who blindly support him, bolstering his position that he’s done nothing wrong.

“He’s put around himself people who will carry him forward no matter what decision he makes and that’s dangerous,” Smith told Cabot. “It’s dangerous for Deshaun Watson as well. He can change, but not if there are people around him saying, ‘Yeah, she’s just after your money’ and ‘You paid all that money and it still didn’t make any difference.’ He needs to rid himself of those people, because they’re not serving him well.”

They haven’t been serving him well from the get go. An effort to settle the claims of Ashley Solis was rebuffed, setting the stage for her lawsuit and 23 others. A stubborn insistence by Watson’s camp that a potential settlement of the claims in April 2021 not include a confidentiality provision resulted in a missed opportunity to end the cases fairly quickly. Along the way, lawyer Rusty Hardin has declared that all of the Watson accusers are lying.

No, Watson has not been served well. He needs someone to speak hard truths to him. Hopefully, that will happen through counseling. If he refuses to accept and heed the things he’ll hear, he shouldn’t be reinstated for Week 13 at Houston — or at any point until he stops standing on his innocence and starts embracing strategies for understanding how these issues arose, and how to avoid them in the future.

NFL senior advisor Rita Smith on Deshaun Watson: “I feel like he’s playing us” originally appeared on Pro Football Talk