So, here we are, several months after that thing at Deshaun Watson. If I Google correctly, it was March 20th when the deal with Texas was officially announced.
Reaction was immediate among Browns fans and the gamut ranged from aversion to exhilaration. A dear friend and a member of our writing team simply wrote “I’m done” on our frantic Slack channel when the news came. I was hoping he was joking. Not so.
Like our friend, a lot of Browns fans turned their backs on the team that day and the days that followed. And that’s fine, if that’s how they feel.
Our forums erupted into heated debate at times about every conceivable aspect of the decision. I know some fans have left because they wrote to me, and I can sense their sincerity. The cynical opinion that everyone will return is greatly exaggerated.
Some may return. It may not be more.
If you’re reading this, I think you’re still with us. There is something in your blood that binds you to this team, and you will persevere because the team you support will be (and have been) at the embers of their decision. Some of us felt we had a high moral ground against our North Asian competitors and would struggle with our new situation. I know I will. But I’m here, and I’m not going anywhere. At least not willingly.
The decision to trade with Watson showed, if nothing else, much nerve, if not a modicum of desperation, as the Browns attempted to complete their more than 20-year long quest for the franchise behind the quarterback.
Since March 20, everything has been on the slope, as new discoveries appeared on the front pages and more lawsuits were filed against the former field general. Watson has steadfastly declared his innocence on all charges, and his settlement should not automatically be interpreted as a disavowal. But everyone will come to their own conclusions.
For those of us who have been on the journey over the past three months, settling these issues represents the first positive news we’ve heard in a while, and it’s only positive in that it’s a first step toward ending Watson’s situation. That proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is now visible, but there’s still more to come.
The NFL, which was involved in the disciplinary process, has not yet spoken, and there are four other cases whose final fate has not been determined. There may be more discoveries, and the NFL’s suspension of Watson may be lengthy. We could also see a fight between the NFLPA and the league, as the NFL Players Association calls for double standards when disciplining players and owners.
Still, today remarkable progress. And the progress, in our view as Browns fans, is good. Maybe things will start to get better from here.