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Browns Talk Second Chances as Deshaun Watson Shows No Accountability or Remorse

The Cleveland Browns say that Deshaun Watson is feeling remorse and growing as a person, but his public statements suggest the opposite worsening an already bad situation.
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Given how tone deaf Deshaun Watson's performances were in his first two press conferences as a member of the Cleveland Browns, it shouldn't have been a surprise that the third one would be a mess, but the quarterback's inability to show an ounce of remorse or regret even after he settled his punishment with the NFL was an embarrassment to the organization and anyone who has been defending him the last five months.

Perhaps those who tried to defend Watson, including ownership deserve it given the Faustian bargain they made in acquiring him, but it's not often to see an owner like Dee Haslam try to jump on a grenade thrown by their own player, which highlights how absurd the situation is.

The problem for the Browns is they had already publicly expressed remorse on Watson's behalf in a statement. They have been proclaiming that Watson has been doing the work including with a therapist and becoming a better person.

Maybe that's happening behind closed doors, but in public, there isn't an ounce of evidence that Watson has learned anything or reason to be confident this won't happen again. Publicly, Watson doesn't believe he's done anything wrong, which undermines any notion of personal growth or earning a second chance. 

The moment Watson is put out in front of a bunch of reporters, he immediately goes on the defensive. Watson appears to believe that if he shows any vulnerability, admitting wrongdoing, it will be used against him.

One would think that the Browns organization would be pleading with Watson that he can separate criminality with moral failures, even if it is in a statement he reads. Watson can point to the two grand juries and say he is innocent of any criminal wrongdoing, but he has to be willing to acknowledge his ghastly judgment.

Whether the number of massage therapists he used was 30, 50 or 100, Watson could've at least acknowledged it was ridiculous and unnecessary. He could've also admitted deliberately looking for massage therapists with little or no training with the intent of consensual sex wasn't a prudent choice. When you are going into a therapy session equipped with a non-disclosure agreement, it's time to rethink your actions.

Those actions alone will have Watson labeled a pervert. Everything else beyond that becomes speculative including the criminal aspect, which is an unfortunate reality and why so many sexual assaults go unprosecuted. It so often comes down to he said, she said.

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Dee Haslam is then put in a losing position where she's arguing the timeline of therapy. In a back and forth with reporters, she says that therapy is an ongoing process and it takes time for a person to learn about themselves to make meaningful changes.

She's not wrong per se, but Watson's inability to show any empathy not only makes him look terrible, but reflects poorly on her and the Browns as a whole.

Jimmy Haslam tried to make the case that people deserves second chances. He does concede that Watson is getting his because he's a star quarterback, but there's still a key ingredient missing; accountability.

If Watson doesn't believe he did anything wrong, people can label this a second chance, but it's simply enabling him. He signed his $230 million contract before he was punished or the idea of personal responsibility was ever a consideration. The Browns were among a group of teams that were willing to emphasize winning over everything else, which could only further Watson's entitlement. The organization is largely counting on shame to force Watson to change his behavior. Thus far, he hasn't demonstrated he's capable of experiencing embarrassment.

Jimmy Haslam pointed to running back Kareem Hunt as an example of a productive second chance. Outside of a troubling traffic incident, Hunt has been able to keep himself out of trouble. 

Hunt was willing to acknowledge wrongdoing and the Browns then under general manager John Dorsey made him work for redemption in a way the current regime is not with Watson. After serving an 8-game suspension, Hunt earned $596,471 in 2019, two tenths of one percent the value of Watson's deal five-year deal. Hunt had to make changes in his life out of fear he could lose his career. Watson only has to worry about obeying the parameters of his contract since the deal is fully guaranteed.

Maybe Watson will learn something as he continues to go through therapy and has to reflect on the consequences of his actions. The Browns at least had the sense to shut him down for the rest of the preseason. Nevertheless, the Browns have shown they are only focused on winning, which could work out for them if it leads to winning the Super Bowl. 

The Browns would absolutely have made this trade again with the benefit of hindsight, but that doesn't mean they didn't underestimate just how difficult this process would be. Coming out of this latest set of press conferences, it's not likely to get any easier for the foreseeable future and this organization deserves everything they have coming.