STEP RIGHT UP!

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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Here's why the Texans will make the playoffs under Lovie Smith

1. The Houston Texans had a mentally tough practice Saturday. The team has worked a lot in pads and Lovie Smith noted the days starting to build up on them during this practice. The head coach said this is a good practice because it is like the fourth quarter of the games the team will end up playing.

2. Davis Mills threw one of the best passes he has thrown all camp on Saturday. In a red zone drill, he dropped back and whipped a pass between two defenders into the tightest window he has had all camp. Nico Collins hauled in the threaded pass for a score.

3. A few reps later Davis Mills struck again. With traffic from linebackers and defensive backs, he found Chris Conley for a score. It wasn’t as tight of a window as the first one, but Mills snapped it off nonetheless.

4. Pharaoh Brown made something hard look very easy on Saturday. With Mills rolling out and tossing the ball to Brown in the back corner Brown hauled in a one-handed catch and had both feet down. Touchdown. Brown then acted like it was no big deal.

5. Pharaoh Brown has had a wonderful camp. Lovie Smith named him the starting tight end. The thing that really jumped out to me today is he makes his work look easy. He isn’t straining to excel in his opportunities. The good ones always make it look easy and it has looked easy for Brown so far.

6. Rookie linebacker Christian Harris is on the shelf for a few days. He joins fellow rookie Kenyon Green as players who are injured. Max Scharping played left guard with Green down. Wide receiver Phillip Dorset practiced while veteran wideout Chester Rodgers did not.

7. Roy Lopez flashed again today. While Friday was about the rushing attack and Lopez made his presence felt at defensive tackle, he got into the pass rush Saturday. Lopez would have had a bone-crushing sack in a live rep.

8. Ross Blacklock hasn’t been consistent. A statement like that is good and evil. There are some plays where Blacklock looks like he isn’t a factor. I watched one today. A play later he had what would have been a sack on the play. He’s a player to watch in the preseason games closely.

9. Don’t expect to see Derek Stingley in the preseason opener next Saturday. Lovie Smith wouldn’t commit to the rookie cornerback playing in the preseason. Smith did say Stingley is on track to play week one in the regular season.

10. Brevin Jordan has had a nice camp and should be an important piece for the team. Jordan had a bad drop in 7-on-7 drills that he was beating himself up over for a few minutes. That was out of the norm. He’s been used a lot and will be on the field a bit it seems for the Texans.

11. Brevin Jordan also rattled off a few contenders for the quote of the day. He exclaimed he had taken care of himself this offseason and he finally had abs. He also revealed he’s quite the fisherman and once caught a 125-pound tuna. When asked what he did with the tuna Jordan laughed and said “RIP tuna!”

Listen to Cody Stoots weekdays afternoons 3-7pm on his show "The Wheelhouse" live on ESPN 97.5 + 92.5 FM or anytime on demand at the podcast here.

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