How Texans, Watson circus reached critical point of no return

How Texans, Watson circus reached critical point of no return
The plot thickened this week. Composite image by Jack Brame.

For heaven's, specifically Houston's, sake, this endlessly worsening Deshaun Watson fiasco must stop. Trade him, cut him, exempt list him, indict him, charge him, make him swear to tell the truth, something or anything. What are the Texans and the NFL waiting for? The circus needs to leave town.

What's going to happen if the season starts, Watson is still with the team and quarterback Tyrod Taylor throws a first-quarter Pick 6 with No. 4 stewing on the bench? An almost sold-out stadium will chant "Wat-son! Wat-son!" Fans screaming for Watson would be an untenable, humiliating scenario for the Texans. He's got to go.

Head coach David Culley must have it up to here with the media's fetish for asking questions about Watson. For his part, Watson has taken a vow of silence, except for one muttered complaint at training camp, "Why are y'all always filming me? It's the same s---."

Excellent question. Perhaps it's because you're a football superstar with a $156 million contract, a couple dozen women have sued you or gone to the police with kinky details of your alleged sexual misconduct, you're the only All-Pro quarterback who's listed fourth on his team's depth chart, and most sports analysts believe you will be suspended by the league … you think that may be why?

The plot thickened this week. We learned that the FBI has interviewed Watson and several of the accusing women. Tony Buzbee, attorney for the accusing women, seemed to suggest that the feds are looking into Watson's alleged criminal behavior because Watson used the Internet to contact out-of-state masseuses. Rusty Hardin for the defense said the FBI is exploring whether one of the accusers attempted to extort money from Watson. Only the FBI knows why they were poking around Houston and they're not singing.

Let's go to the tote board: there are 22 civil lawsuits in motion and 10 criminal complaints. The matter is being investigated by the feds, the Houston Police Department, the Harris County District Attorney's office, a Grand Jury, and the National Football League. The only law enforcement entities not currently investigating Watson are Deputy Barney Fife and Guardians of the Galaxy.

The two distinguished barristers are Rusty Hardin for Watson, and Tony Buzbee for the civil lawsuit accusers. With each press conference and ensuing insult slap fight, it looks like those two are auditioning for a Comedy Central Roast or a Texas Death Match at WrestleMania. Or in Buzbee's case, mayor of Houston. Watson and the women would be better represented, at least with more dignity, by Jackie Chiles and My Cousin Vinny.

This week, Hardin commented that "Mr. Buzbee's knowledge of the criminal justice system … probably if you put it in a thimble, there would be a lot of room left."

Ouch! But Actor Wilford Brimley wore it better years ago when he said, "What I know about poker, you can fit in a thimble with room left over."

Meanwhile the Texans try to ignore the freak show and get ready for the NFL season. With their best player pre-occupied with legal woes, and a roster devoid of star players, the Texans should struggle for wins this season. TV networks aren't squabbling over who gets a Texans game in prime time. Let's say you're sitting at Denny's enjoying a Moons Over My Hammy sandwich and a bunch of large men walk in. You hear a waitress say, "Those are Houston Texans, they come in here a lot."

How many could you recognize outside of their uniforms? Even in their uniforms? Turned around so you can read their names? Whose jersey will be the No. 1 seller at the Texans Team Shop at NRG Stadium?

The Texans say they're not listening to sincere trade offers from other NFL teams. And I'm not waiting to hear if I've been nominated for a Tony Award. What team in its right mind is going to trade multiple first-round draft picks and quality starters (reportedly the Texans asking price) for a radioactive quarterback with more baggage than Carousel 3 in Terminal C at Bush-Intercontinental?

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Justin Verlander is heading to the injured list. Composite Getty Image.

Astros ace Justin Verlander missed his start over the weekend due to neck discomfort, which had many fans concerned. The last Houston pitcher (Cristian Javier) to miss time with the same injury would end up out for the season and having to undergo Tommy John surgery.

Fortunately, it doesn't look like that will be the case for JV, and the team didn't anticipate having to put Verlander on IR. They hoped he would be able to start Thursday's game in Chicago.

But manager Joe Espada told the Astros flagship station on Tuesday that his progress “is slower than we expected.”

Fast-forward a few hours and JV is headed to the IL, with Nick Hernandez joining the club from Sugar Land.

Hopefully, this is just a short stint on the injured list for Verlander. Quite frankly, the Astros are running out of big league caliber starting pitching options.

One has to wonder, how many more injuries the team can sustain in 2024? The injury bug is biting hard, and the club is currently nine games behind Seattle in the AL West.

Up next

Framber Valdez takes the mound for Houston against the White Sox on Tuesday night.

The Athletic's Chandler Rome shares some possibilities the Astros might explore to replace Verlander in the post below.

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