BACK TO SQUARE ONE

This firsthand account of deposition paints fascinating picture for what awaits Deshaun Watson

Watson will be deposed over several days in February and March. Composite image by Jack Brame

There’s a whole lot of doing – and nothing getting done – lately in the terminally neverending drama of Deshaun Watson and his future in football.

Recently floated rumors by “NFL insiders” have Watson as a package deal with hotly pursued coach Brian Flores, Watson to the Minnesota Vikings, Watson to the New York Giants, Watson to the Carolina Panthers.

Some samples:

“Developing story: Deshaun Watson and Brian Flores have been in constant communication trying to navigate a scenario where they go to the same team, per sources.”

“Sources tell me the biggest sleeper in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes—the Minnesota Vikings.”

“As the Panthers continue to search for their quarterback of the future, a trade (for) Deshaun Watson remains an option.”

“After intense digging into the Coach Flores and Deshaun Watson situations, sources close to the situation say Flores and Watson have had no contact. Flores and Watson don’t have each other’s phone numbers.”

That’s some sources you’ve got there. A better way of putting it, we’re back to Square One with the prospect of Watson going nowhere and doing nothing for another year growing more possible. Again, sources.

There still is the matter of 22 civil lawsuits by masseuses accusing Watson of sexual misconduct. Also, a grand jury is considering the case, which could result in Watson facing criminal charges and a trial. The grand jury’s decision is expected soon.

Here’s what we know for sure, and by sure we mean it’s anybody’s guess how this plays out.

Tony Buzbee, lawyer for the 22 women filing civil suits against Watson, says he will depose Watson over several days in February and March. Sessions are scheduled for Feb. 24-25, Feb. 28, March 1, March 8-9, and March 22-23. The questioning will start at 10 a.m. each day in Buzbee’s downtown office. The deposition is not to exceed 48 hours total and will be videotaped.

Buzbee, champing at the bit for this deposition, will have Watson waxing nostalgic for the time he was gang tackled by the Chicago Bears for a safety. I’ve been there, deposed in a lawyer’s office. It’s an excruciating experience. The newspaper I worked for was being sued and the plaintiff’s side wanted to know what I knew. I was prepped, advised that the opposing lawyer would try to get me angry so I’d crack under pressure and say something dumb. I was grilled for about four hours, which consisted of the same question being asked 1,000 times in 1,000 different ways. I did my best Sgt. Schultz imitation, “I know nothing,” which happened to be the truth. I was closer to a typist in the steno pool than a boardroom executive at that newspaper.

Given the high publicity nature of the case, laughable security measures and outlandish stunts by both sides, I expect videotapes of Watson’s deposition to hit YouTube by 6 p.m.

Recently, a detailed copy of a $100,000 settlement offer by Watson to one of the accusers last October was leaked. Who leaked it? Suspects are limited to every cast member in this B-movie, straight-to-cable drama.

Like those “NFL insiders” speculating on Watson’s future, I have my sources, too. Not to brag, but my sources are just as unreliable as theirs.

Here’s one scenario: the grand jury says the accusations against Watson are worthy of a trial. Watson is found guilty of some sort of misdemeanor and pays a hefty fine. The NFL puts him on the commissioner’s exempt list and sidelines Watson for some, most or all of the 2022 season. Other teams back off trading for Watson and he stays with the Texans who would have to pay him for 2022.

Or Watson is innocent, the grand jury says there insufficient evidence for a trial to proceed, the women drop their civil suits, and Watson is free and clear to continue his career.

It’s a coin flip, and you know how football fans are loving coin flips these days.

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