3RD LAWSUIT FILED

How Watson lawsuits serve as cautionary tale of accusation, perception and perspective

This is where it stands today. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

A few years ago, a friend and I were talking, "Who, if they were caught taking steroids or arrested for drugs or domestic violence, would absolutely devastate the city where they played?"

Our final answer was: J.J. Watt. That's how beloved and respected he was in Houston, a modern day superhero and role model. Seemingly the perfect person.

We're not there yet with Deshaun Watson. But since arriving in Houston, he's made all the right moves, starting his rookie season in 2017 by donating his first game paycheck to NRG Stadium employees whose lives were turned upside down by Hurricane Harvey. Over the past four years, Watson has been a fine citizen and dazzling quarterback for the Houston Texans. With Watt's departure for Arizona, Watson is the brightest sports star in Houston.

Of course Watson's luster has been tarnished of late with his demand that the Texans trade him out of Houston. Somehow he remains the fans' favorite, a rare case where the public is siding with a superstar who wants to leave the city. We get it. Watson deserves better.

Then late Tuesday night, celebrity lawyer Tony Buzbee announced on Instagram that he was filing a civil lawsuit accusing Watson of sexual misconduct with a masseuse back in March 2020. That was followed with another lawsuit Wednesday, packed with lurid, step-by-step details about an encounter with a different masseuse at the Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa in August 2020.

Thursday morning, a third lawsuit was filed, this one claiming that Watson physically forced a masseuse to perform a sex act on him. Buzbee says a fourth, fifth and sixth lawsuits are on their way.

Watson, who has kept silent during his drawn out demand to be traded, spoke up immediately Tuesday night. In a social media post, he insisted that he's innocent of the claims in these lawsuits. Watson wrote, "I have never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect."

Watson claimed that Buzbee, before filing the first lawsuit, tried to shake him down for "six-figure" hush money. Watson concluded, "this isn't about money for me – it's about clearing my name and I look forward to doing that."

Buzbee says that he's received death threats and his children have been harassed since he filed the lawsuits against Watson. Buzbee insists that he will not litigate his clients' charges in the press. It does look that he will make his case on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, however.

This is where it stands today: is Deshaun Watson, Houston's highly paid, coveted and admired quarterback a sleazebag sexual predator, or is he the innocent victim of blackmail and character assassination orchestrated by a bombastic, publicity-seeking lawyer for some unknown reason, possibly revenge for Watson wanting to leave the Houston Texans?

Already wild conspiracy theories abound on social media and sports talk radio. Is Buzbee fronting for Texans management in an attempt to destroy Watson's reputation so other NFL teams will get cold feet on dealing for Watson? Is Buzbee, a former Republican candidate for mayor, exacting payback for Watson's activism on social issues? Or is Buzbee simply seeking to bring down a high profile professional athlete to stroke his ego and lure more clients?

In his Instagram post Tuesday night, Buzbee claimed, "I love football as much as the next person (although I've never been a Texans fan)."

In 2014, Buzbee, an A&M graduate, paid to erect several billboards around Houston imploring the Texans to draft Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel, whom Buzbee called "the greatest college football player ever." In a recent social media post, Buzbee refered to Texans owner Cal McNair as "my neighbor" in River Oaks.

Buzbee says he is not filing these lawsuits seeking fame or financial reward, but to fight for justice for his clients – "it takes a lot of guts to stand up to the powerful when you are perceived powerless."

The case may take months or longer to wind its way through court, if there aren't quiet private settlements to make all this go away. When a trade to move Watson is made, the quarterback's advisors may wish to avoid press reports that include "Watson currently is being sued by several women for inappropriate sexual behavior."

While fans and society in general tend to glamorize football stars like Watson, we really know little about them other than their accomplishments on the gridiron and what their personal management wants us to know. Even if these lawsuits ultimately do reach a courtroom, we still may not know what went on between Watson and the women. With multiple lawsuits, we will have a classic case of "he says, they say."

It's important to remember that Watson is guilty of nothing at the moment. Lawsuits are merely accusations. Anybody can file a lawsuit against anybody for anything.

However, these accusations are serious and should be taken seriously. We should hold judgment. The Texans released a statement saying little except they are aware of the lawsuits. The NFL has made no comment.

Often accusations of predator behavior are used as political or personal weapons. Deshaun Watson is not a government official whose decisions affect our daily lives. He is a quarterback. While many of us may think that's a more important position than elected official, we should take a deep breath and let this play out.

Wherever Deshaun Watson plays next season.

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The losing streak continues

Mariners get walk-off win over short-staffed Astros

Alex De Goti had an impressive debut. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

After a brutal homestand capped off by losing five players to the IL for health and safety protocols, the once 5-1 Astros brought their now 6-6 record to T-Mobile park in Seattle to try and right the ship. They'd have to do it with new and young players in the lineup using the "next man up" mentality to get some wins against the first-place Mariners.

Though the young bats would work themselves into a lead most of the night, Houston's bullpen wouldn't be able to hold the Mariners down, with Seattle ultimately walking things off in the ninth.

Final Score: Mariners 6, Astros 5

Astros' Record: 6-7, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Anthony Misiewicz (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Ryne Stanek (0-1)

After a quiet start, Houston gets three in the fifth

After cruising through the Astros through the first four innings, allowing only a walk over that span, Houston was able to put up a big inning against Yusei Kikuchi in the top of the fifth. Carlos Correa notched the first hit of the night, followed by a walk by Taylor Jones to put two on base.



That brought Alex De Goti, making his major-league debut, to the plate and, in his second career at-bat, would get his first hit and RBI, bringing in Correa from second on a single. A second run would come on the same play on a throwing error, then Chaz McCormick made it a three-run inning with an RBI-double, putting Houston out front 3-0.

Urquidy comes an out shy of a quality start

Meanwhile, Jose Urquidy was doing well through five innings. On track for a much-needed quality start, the Mariners would tag him in the bottom of the sixth, getting three-straight hits to bring in two runs to lead off the frame and leaving a runner on second base with no outs.

Urquidy would rebound to get the next two batters on strikeouts, but at 90 pitches and with a left-handed hitter up next, Dusty Baker would bring in lefty Brooks Raley to try and get out of the inning with the one-run lead intact. Raley would do his job, putting Uruidy's line final: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 90 P.

Teams trade two-run seventh innings

The young bats for Houston struck again in the top of the seventh, with Jones and De Goti leading it off with back-to-back singles before Jason Castro would load the bases with a walk. With two outs, Aledmys Diaz would push the lead back to three with a two-RBI single, making it 5-2.

With Raley out after facing his one batter, next out of Houston's bullpen was Bryan Abreu to help maintain Houston's lead. Instead, he would give up two runs on two hits and a walk while getting just two outs before Baker moved on to Blake Taylor, who would get the last out of the seventh with Houston hanging on to a one-run lead at 5-4.

Mariners get the walk-off win

Taylor remained in the game in the bottom of the eighth, and after getting an out, would allow a game-tying solo home run to Evan White before injuring himself trying to field an infield single. Ryne Stanek entered and finished off the eighth, sending the tie game to the ninth.

After Houston came up empty in the top half, Stanek remained in the game in the bottom of the ninth, attempting to force extras. Back-to-back walks ended Stanek's night, with the Astros hoping Ryan Pressly could bail them out. He couldn't, though, giving up the walk-off hit as the Mariners would take the opener, 6-5.

Up Next: Game two of this three-game set will start an hour earlier on Saturday, with first pitch at 8:10 PM Central. Zack Greinke (1-1, 4.08 ERA) will try to rebound from a poor start his last time out for the Astros, while the Mariners will hand the ball to Chris Flexen (1-0, 4.50 ERA).

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