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Real Sports Effectively Summarizes Deshaun Watson Case Including Seamy Underbelly

The segment done by HBO's Real Sports effectively summarizes everything up to this point in the Deshaun Watson case, including just how cloudy the situation is as both sides provide more questions than answers.

If viewers were coming in looking to find clarity or winners in the Deshaun Watson piece done by HBO's Real Sports, there weren't any to be found, with the possible exception of Soledad O'Brien who was thorough in exploring the issues in the case. Real Sports warrants criticism for advertising this piece as having "several" of Watson's accusers, which two is not.

The two accusers that were interviewed, Ashley Solis and Kyla Hayes, are difficult to judge one way or the other. Only they know how they felt in the moment and now, so trying to judge how genuine they are isn't fair. They told their stories in graphic detail and responded to some challenging questions from O'Brien raised by Watson's defense team.

Meanwhile, both lawyers interviewed, including Tony Buzbee representing the 22 accusers and Leah Graham, one of the lawyers on Watson's defense, probably ended up doing more harm than good for their clients, which might give viewers the urge to take a shower. The Browns, who declined to be involved, also did took a few hits.

O'Brien allowed the two accusers she spoke with to tell their stories, but she also presented questions raised by Watson's defense.

Kyla Hayes was asked why she had continued contact with Watson for months after the alleged incident. She responding by saying, "I wasn't sure what he was capable of. He could've physically assaulted me. He could've bashed my business, so I had to protect myself and my business the best way I saw fit. Did I ever see him again after that? No. Did I give him the run around? Yes."

O'Brien said they reached out to seven other accusers, all of which who denied to be interviewed, but had follow up appointments with Watson, which doesn't look great. 

Buzbee was also interviewed and most of what was televised was spent criticizing the Browns and the league.

"I don't think that the team care about what Watson may have done in a massage session and based on my personal experience with the NFL, I don't think they care either."

The Browns, for their part, offered the same statement they did in Watson's introductory press conference when it came to the question of why they didn't reach out to any of the alleged victims. They say they were advised by their legal counsel not to speak to any of the women involved in the case, but employed third party investigators to research the situation.

Even if Buzbee is right about the Browns and the league, it doesn't help his case. His criticism may be warranted, but it comes off as an attempt to shame the league into a suspension, perhaps with the end goal of inducing a settlement.

Buzbee was also pressed on the possibility of extortion. After being firm in his answers initially, when he was asked if it was at all possible that some of the 22 women have an ulterior motive.

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To this, Buzbee said, "I hope not. I don't think so. We vetted each one, but if I were ever to come to the conclusion, that case wouldn't go forward."

This answer didn't come off as terribly convincing, though given the framing of the question, it's not an easy question to answer with certainty.

When speaking to Leah Graham, O'Brien started the interview by stating, "For Deshaun Watson to be innocent, 22 women would have to be lying. Why would the public believe one man versus 22 different women?" 

Graham immediately started by attacking Buzbee's credibility, which has been a theme throughout this process from Watson's defense. Because they don't want to be seen as attacking these women, Buzbee becomes a natural target. Graham speculated no one else would take the case and that he solicited clients in order to use them for his own fame.

Possible, but completely dodges the question. It's not a coincidence that Rusty Hardin, lead counsel for Watson's defense had Graham, a woman do this interview. It's not the first time they've done this, hoping that having a woman defending Watson will somehow make his case more believable. Graham effectively avoided calling the accusers liars.

O'Brien followed up by asking, "How do you explain unintentionally ending up having sex with people who are giving you professional massages?"  responded by saying, "Well, in every massage, I will tell you he did go intending just for professional massage. And only those three instances where sexual conduct occurred, consensual sexual activity, it occurred after the massage session had ended and Mr. Watson has testified and is insistent that that sexual activity was initiated by the plaintiff in every single instance."

Graham responded by saying, "Well, in every massage, I will tell you he did go intending just for professional massage. And only those three instances where sexual conduct occurred, consensual sexual activity, it occurred after the massage session had ended and Mr. Watson has testified and is insistent that that sexual activity was initiated by the plaintiff in every single instance."

From start to finish, this answer is cringeworthy. Using the word 'only' to try to minimize Watson's actions, as if having sex with three women out of 22 in what are supposed to be professional appointments as if isn't a significant number is troubling. She paints Watson as a victim who couldn't possibly resist the advances of these women. She then finishes by citing Watson's testimony that the sex didn't happen until after the session.

Why is that relevant? And what determines when the session is over? It stands out that they are trying to create a line between the session and any sexual activity.

Watson has stated both in his introductory press conference and in depositions that he has no regrets, something Graham said with an unsettling amount of glee. Even if Watson's account is accurate, it might help him to have some regrets in at least those three instances because there's a real chance the NFL is going to hold it against him under admittedly vague personal conduct guidelines. It might help him to show some form of contrition, but given just his stubbornness insisting he did nothing wrong, that doesn't seem to be forthcoming.

For people who haven't paid attention to the case, this segment was effective in presenting a digestible version of events to catch up to where things currently stand. It also does nothing to eliminate the cloud hanging over this case. There are questions that warrant answers from some of the women given the evidence. Perhaps, they were hoping that the larger number might help pressure a settlement, but Watson's defense isn't without issues.

The league undoubtedly knows more than Real Sports, but between pressure to act from forces both within the league and outside combined with little clarity on what truly happened with plenty of the accusers that doesn't make deciding how to proceed with discipline or resolve these civil suits any easier.