Watson to Cleveland

Gash Prex

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I'm not sure this is a great defense

“I don’t know how many men are out there now that have had a massage that perhaps occasionally there was a happy ending,” Hardin said. “Maybe there’s nobody in your listening audience that that ever happened to. I do want to point out, if it has happened, it’s not a crime. OK? Unless you are paying somebody extra or so to give you some type of sexual activity, it’s not a crime. . . . Doing something or saying something or being a way that makes you uncomfortable is not a crime.”
https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2022/06/03/deshaun-watsons-lawyer-rusty-hardin-contends-sexual-activity-during-a-massage-is-not-a-crime/
 

Van Everyman

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I always thought Rusty did a shit job with Clemens on the PR front as well. Maybe it was the client and no he didn’t go to jail, but the guy’s name has been mud since BALCO and some of that is on Hardin allowing the whole thing to be turned into a soap opera.

Also, can we retire the term “happy ending” already? It’s gross and even for sex workers strongly overlooks the power imbalance, much less licensed therapists.
 

BunnzMcGinty

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I always thought Rusty did a shit job with Clemens on the PR front as well. Maybe it was the client and no he didn’t go to jail, but the guy’s name has been mud since BALCO and some of that is on Hardin allowing the whole thing to be turned into a soap opera.

Also, can we retire the term “happy ending” already? It’s gross and even for sex workers strongly overlooks the power imbalance, much less licensed therapists.
It doesn’t help that Hardin is like “sleazy lawyer guilty rich people hire” right out of central casting; expensive suits but painfully cheap toupee, thick southern twang, sh*t eating grin, but I think Roger’s rep was tainted already, and that’s Hardin’s MO when defending a dirty client, drag everyone into the mud to level the playing field.
 

johnmd20

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The Browns made their own bed on this one, and it sucks and it's getting worse. I imagine they would want a mulligan here but they don't get one. They have to eat it, and rushing after Watson was so dumb. The ridiculous contract was so much worse.
 

Shelterdog

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Sadly I think we're still overestimating the likelihood or significance of league punishment. These new lawsuits aren't going to move the needle. I'll predict a four to six game suspension, 8 tops.
 

Gash Prex

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Maybe the NFL should just let the NYT conduct its investigations. Its been clear since the beginning that Watson is a sexual predator that used the guise of paying for massages to pray upon women (some vulnerable). I think the shit is going to keep rolling on this one and I don't think the NFL really wants Watson out there while this matter is still pending. Its not going to get better - only worse.

Hardin also used his influence with the prosecutor to get it kicked as well - some in depth reporting on the conversations between Hardin and prosecutor.
 

soxhop411

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Maybe the NFL should just let the NYT conduct its investigations. Its been clear since the beginning that Watson is a sexual predator that used the guise of paying for massages to pray upon women (some vulnerable). I think the shit is going to keep rolling on this one and I don't think the NFL really wants Watson out there while this matter is still pending. Its not going to get better - only worse.

Hardin also used his influence with the prosecutor to get it kicked as well - some in depth reporting on the conversations between Hardin and prosecutor.
Yah, and really both the Texans and Browns deserve whatever the hell the NFL equivalent of the "death penalty" is in the NCAA... They both covered up this shit, and the browns even claimed they did a "thorough" investigation before they gave Watson a huge contract.

Given its the NFL, though Im not getting my hopes up...
 

snowmanny

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Maybe the NFL should just let the NYT conduct its investigations. Its been clear since the beginning that Watson is a sexual predator that used the guise of paying for massages to pray upon women (some vulnerable). I think the shit is going to keep rolling on this one and I don't think the NFL really wants Watson out there while this matter is still pending. Its not going to get better - only worse.
I think you are right that it will just get worse. Whatever suspension the NFL levies isn't going to end this. There are 23 lawsuits out there and stuff is pouring out almost daily.

Yah, and really both the Texans and Browns deserve whatever the hell the NFL equivalent of the "death penalty" is in the NCAA... They both covered up this shit, and the browns even claimed they did a "thorough" investigation before they gave Watson a huge contract.
Well, the Browns being the Browns and the Texans being the Texans should keep them in purgatory for awhile.
The Browns especially. What a crap trade/contract.
 

Ralphwiggum

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I can’t get over the fact that the Browns traded for this guy and then gave him that contract. They have no choice but to play the guy if he’s eligible, damn the negative PR. I’m disgusted with myself for supporting a league that is probably going to slap the guy on the wrist and hope everyone forgets about all of this, I can’t imagine rooting for the Browns with him as the face of the franchise. But if course we know if he plays well most fans of the team won’t give a shit.
 

Bergs

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I can’t get over the fact that the Browns traded for this guy and then gave him that contract. They have no choice but to play the guy if he’s eligible, damn the negative PR. I’m disgusted with myself for supporting a league that is probably going to slap the guy on the wrist and hope everyone forgets about all of this, I can’t imagine rooting for the Browns with him as the face of the franchise. But if course we know if he plays well most fans of the team won’t give a shit.
It really is such a self own.

My in-laws are Browns fans and thoroughly disgusted. My wife is a lifelong fan and she hates them now. Shit, they've been a team I softly root for since I met her. I can't imagine rooting for them ever again as long as the Haslams are in charge.
 

Marciano490

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Who the fuck needs an NDA for a masseuse?

Deviants... that's who.
I was gonna ask who needs a contract for a masseuse, but perhaps these things are more common than we know among celebs.

The biggest bombshell for me is the reporting on Hardin wining and dining the prosecutor. Hopefully, that’ll get his office to reconsider bringing charges, so Watson can face justice and I won’t have to see him in highlight reels and fantasy scoreboards on Sundays.
 

djbayko

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Who the fuck needs an NDA for a masseuse?

Deviants... that's who.
How does an NDA even make sense in this situation? It's one thing if the victim agrees after the fact to some form of compensation in exchange for keeping the assailant's transgressions quiet. But I'm assuming this NDA doesn't say "If you happen to be sexually assaulted during these services which have yet to be performed..." Is the purpose just to make the women believe they have no recourse because they think they're not allowed to talk about the visit at all?
 

Van Everyman

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The biggest bombshell for me is the reporting on Hardin wining and dining the prosecutor. Hopefully, that’ll get his office to reconsider bringing charges, so Watson can face justice and I won’t have to see him in highlight reels and fantasy scoreboards on Sundays.
I can only imagine the Schefter tweet if that happens. What with his undeniable innocence stripped away and all.
 

johnmd20

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My in-laws are Browns fans and thoroughly disgusted. My wife is a lifelong fan and she hates them now. Shit, they've been a team I softly root for since I met her. I can't imagine rooting for them ever again as long as the Haslams are in charge.
My wife is also from Cleveland and was also a lifelong fan and she's disgusted to the point where she will actively root against Watson.

It was truly a self own by the team. Dumb, obtuse, absolutely gross, and negligent considering the dollars involved that are guaranteed.
 

jcd0805

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How does an NDA even make sense in this situation? It's one thing if the victim agrees after the fact to some form of compensation in exchange for keeping the assailant's transgressions quiet. But I'm assuming this NDA doesn't say "If you happen to be sexually assaulted during these services which have yet to be performed..." Is the purpose just to make the women believe they have no recourse because they think they're not allowed to talk about the visit at all?
He doesn't sound like the brightest bulb, seems like he thought it made whatever gross things he was going to do ok because it was all "professional".
 

Myt1

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Who the fuck needs an NDA for a masseuse?

Deviants... that's who.
It’s pretty tough to read the accusations and even the depo testimony without coming away with the impression that the guy is a sociopath. That is compulsive, manipulative behavior that shows no empathy at all for his targets.
 

Vegas Sox Fan

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How does an NDA even make sense in this situation? It's one thing if the victim agrees after the fact to some form of compensation in exchange for keeping the assailant's transgressions quiet. But I'm assuming this NDA doesn't say "If you happen to be sexually assaulted during these services which have yet to be performed..." Is the purpose just to make the women believe they have no recourse because they think they're not allowed to talk about the visit at all?
I don't think Watson really understood the point of the NDA either. The woman that knew his girlfriend says she doesn't want to go to his hotel because she wants to keep it professional. His response is that it will be so professional that she will need to sign a NDA and won't be able to talk about it afterward.
 

tbb345

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It’s pretty tough to read the accusations and even the depo testimony without coming away with the impression that the guy is a sociopath. That is compulsive, manipulative behavior that shows no empathy at all for his targets.
This is my takeaway too and why I think he might be suspended for longer than any of us anticipate…
He has shown pretty much 0 regret or even entertained the idea that he did literally anything close to wrong.
His first press conference with the team he was being lobbed softballs to show any sort of remorse or acknowledge that he could use some help….and he acted like it was an insult to suggest he could have done anything untoward.

It’s clear from the reporting and what we’ve read that he at the very least made a lot of people very uncomfortable and made advances that weren’t right. I don’t think he even sees it that way, which definitely makes him a siciopath
 

NDame616

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I'll bite re: the NDA.

Say Rodgers goes to gets a massage. He asks the masseuse to sign an NDA because he don't want a situation where he says "my left knee is killing me after a big hit last week. Concentrate on that" and then she goes to the media/opposing teams/books and says "Aaron Rodgers has a bad left knee!!"
 

djbayko

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I'll bite re: the NDA.

Say Rodgers goes to gets a massage. He asks the masseuse to sign an NDA because he don't want a situation where he says "my left knee is killing me after a big hit last week. Concentrate on that" and then she goes to the media/opposing teams/books and says "Aaron Rodgers has a bad left knee!!"
Sure, but in Watson’s case the NDAs only came out after one of the first women threatened to expose his sexual advances. I really think it was about creating an atmosphere where the women might naively believe they didn’t have any options. Maybe Watson even believed that too.
 

jose melendez

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I'll bite re: the NDA.

Say Rodgers goes to gets a massage. He asks the masseuse to sign an NDA because he don't want a situation where he says "my left knee is killing me after a big hit last week. Concentrate on that" and then she goes to the media/opposing teams/books and says "Aaron Rodgers has a bad left knee!!"
I'm willing to sign up for Aaron Rodgers being a deviant too.
 

CoffeeNerdness

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I'll bite re: the NDA.

Say Rodgers goes to gets a massage. He asks the masseuse to sign an NDA because he don't want a situation where he says "my left knee is killing me after a big hit last week. Concentrate on that" and then she goes to the media/opposing teams/books and says "Aaron Rodgers has a bad left knee!!"
That would be on the injury report.
 

Ralphwiggum

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If you are concerned about a massage therapist potentially disclosing an injury definitely the way to mitigate that risk is to contact 60+ random massage therapists on Instagram without regard to whether they are qualified and/or licensed, and see as many of them as possible (but ask them to sign an NDA). Or, you could get your treatment from the team training staff.
 

macal

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Jul 31, 2005
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Maybe someone with better knowledge of NFL contracts or contracts in general can answer this. Say the the Browns included some language in the contract that would make the contract Null and Void in the event of X happening (more assault accusations etc.). In the event that they are able to get out of the contract, would Watson lose everything? Since, I'm assuming, the previous contract he had with the Texans would be torn up when he got the new one with the Browns, is it possible that he could lose not only the new contract, but also the balance due on the previous contract, which is no longer in effect. I'm assuming a half decent lawyer would not have let this happen, but I can only wish
 

Marciano490

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Maybe someone with better knowledge of NFL contracts or contracts in general can answer this. Say the the Browns included some language in the contract that would make the contract Null and Void in the event of X happening (more assault accusations etc.). In the event that they are able to get out of the contract, would Watson lose everything? Since, I'm assuming, the previous contract he had with the Texans would be torn up when he got the new one with the Browns, is it possible that he could lose not only the new contract, but also the balance due on the previous contract, which is no longer in effect. I'm assuming a half decent lawyer would not have let this happen, but I can only wish
Most/all contracts have language that voids in the event of bad behavior or, say, getting injured doing something risky outside the sport. The problem here for the Browns is that this behavior occurred before the contract, was known to them, they investigated and still signed him, so it’d be almost impossible to memorialize that into some sort of retrospective morals clause or to claim fraud or concealment.
 

soxhop411

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Texans (and others) are being added as defendants per Buzbee
View: https://twitter.com/MySportsUpdate/status/1534663036350373894
Tony Buzbee, attorney for the 24 women suing Deshaun Watson, said in a statement that he's adding the Houston Texans “and others” as defendants in the civil lawsuits against Watson. Buzbee claims the team "knew or certainly should have known" about Watson's alleged misconduct.
 

DJnVa

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Most/all contracts have language that voids in the event of bad behavior or, say, getting injured doing something risky outside the sport. The problem here for the Browns is that this behavior occurred before the contract, was known to them, they investigated and still signed him, so it’d be almost impossible to memorialize that into some sort of retrospective morals clause or to claim fraud or concealment.
Not so fast my friend!

The Cleveland Browns knew about the 23 women who filed lawsuits against Watson, but an unknown 24th lawsuit could allow them to void his contract.

The Browns were aware of the first 23 women who had filed lawsuits. In his contract with the team, it states that he is exempt from suspension “solely in connection with matters disclosed to the club in writing”, which we can assume means the 23 lawsuits. Now that a 24th has come forward, it’s possible that the Browns could void Watson’s contract, since they were not previously aware of this woman. Where there are 24, there are more. It would not be surprising if more women start coming out to tell their stories, considering more than 40 women have said they massaged Watson in the last year and a half.
 

macal

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Jul 31, 2005
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This was the kind of possible scenario I had in mind when I first posed the question. Let's assume it's true (big assumption), then the Browns have given up 3 first round picks and a few other picks for nothing. Not only that, they have pissed off their current QB to an extent that he may decide not to play with them, along with pissing off a lot of their fan base. 200 years from now, they will still be talking about this as being the worst trade in NFL history.

Again, assuming it is true and they void the contract, Watson will be a free agent. I can't see any other team willing to take a chance on him now. So, a win for The Texans, a win for decency, a big loss for the Browns and a big loss for Watson.
 

E5 Yaz

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Not that we should have sympathy with the management, but imagine the mess in Cleveland -- legal and otherwise -- if Watson gets released ... although it does set up a Baker for Jimmy G trade possibility
 

Mystic Merlin

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It is tricky to try to interpret a contract provision out of context and without seeing the provision stated verbatim. Also, Cleveland or the NFL would have to decide that the 24th lawsuit and related evidence warrants a suspension, which would undoubtedly be fought tooth and nail.

To avoid a cap problem this or next year, they would also have to try to claw back almost 50M in signing bonus, which are notoriously difficult to claw back because generally (see AB and Hernandez) you need to prove that the athlete did not disclose at the time of signing the existence of the offense/suit or criminal action related to the offense that led to the suspension, and presumably Watson would try to take the position that this lawsuit was not known at the time. Also, those bonus grievances take a while to process, during which time the Browns would have to account under the cap for the full value of the pro rated bonus payment.

If they cut him this year, even if they avoid the full 230m dead cap hit by successfully voiding all the guarantees - not a slam dunk - they’d have to figure out how to deal with a cap hold of like 45M until they’re able to claw back the bonus, which would almost certainly be accounted for as a credit against NEXT year’s cap.
 
I'm kinda surprised by the tone of the last few comments here. Why would this make any difference to Browns management? (Not why should it, but why would it?) They already knew there were 23 complaints when they signed him. Even if it hadn't crossed their mind that there might be more (and how could it not?) why would that make a difference? While the complaints are of the same type I don't see the Browns management caring whether its 23, 24 or 50. They got their guy, he'll sit out however many games he has to sit out whenever he has to sit them out, and then they'll hope that winning games causes people to forget.

If this was the path they wanted to go down now they've paid the toll to go down it I don't see them turning back barring game-changing revelations about the severity of the offences or a massive backlash against the Browns which doesn't seem likely at all.
 

DJnVa

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Not that we should have sympathy with the management, but imagine the mess in Cleveland -- legal and otherwise -- if Watson gets released ... although it does set up a Baker for Jimmy G trade possibility
Did I miss a report that the Niners would want him?
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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This was the kind of possible scenario I had in mind when I first posed the question. Let's assume it's true (big assumption), then the Browns have given up 3 first round picks and a few other picks for nothing. Not only that, they have pissed off their current QB to an extent that he may decide not to play with them, along with pissing off a lot of their fan base. 200 years from now, they will still be talking about this as being the worst trade in NFL history.

Again, assuming it is true and they void the contract, Watson will be a free agent. I can't see any other team willing to take a chance on him now. So, a win for The Texans, a win for decency, a big loss for the Browns and a big loss for Watson.
Yes theoretically you are correct. If CLE theoretically were able to void Watson's contract, Watson would be a FA and open to the highest bidder. The next question as mentioned above is whether CLE would be able to claw-back the signing bonus.

On a practical level, CLE isn't going to void Watson's contract until he goes from asset to liability. Given Watson's contract and present circumstances, I don't think he's a huge asset but he's an asset nonetheless. My guess it would take something much more egregious for CLE to try to void his contract. So at this point it's all academic.
 

Marciano490

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Absent really specific contract language, I can’t see how the Browns get out of the Watson deal. They’re a sophisticated party contracting with a man with nearly (at the time) two dozen sexual assault allegations. They knew or should have known of the possibility more were coming and could easily have included language to anticipate such a likely event. It’s not like this is a drug or robbery; it’s the same conduct that made him available in the first place.