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What to expect when the Deshaun Watson circus comes to H-Town this Sunday

Deshaun Watson returns to NRG this Sunday. Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey may have pulled up stakes five years ago, but the NFL’s long-delayed freak show is coming to town Sunday at NRG Stadium.

Deshaun Watson, the Houston Texans one-time prodigal son turned accused serial lech, will be at quarterback for the visiting Cleveland Browns. After missing most of the past two years due to a combination of pouting, investigations and punishment over alleged sexual misconduct with dozens of massage therapists, Watson was reinstated to the Browns roster this week after serving an 11-game suspension.

Nothing will ever convince me that the NFL didn’t determine the number of games to sideline Watson so he could return for the Browns 12th game against the Texans in Houston. What's that they say about the alleged suspect always returns to the scene of the alleged crime?

You couldn’t script it any better. Remember, Watson demanded to be traded from the Texans before any masseuses started claiming that Watson acted inappropriately with them. What followed were transcripts of charges and testimony by the women that made Penthouse letters look like Mother Goose nursery rhymes.

Two grand juries failed to indict Watson on any criminal charges and the quarterback settled out of court with most of the accusers. The NFL eventually suspended Watson and ordered him to get counseling and to use only team-approved massage therapists in the future. Watson has complied with the NFL's demands.

So what will happen when Watson takes the field Sunday? It’s likely that the stadium announcer will downplay Watson’s presence. This will mark 700 days since Watson last threw a pass in an NFL regular season game. Will he come out rusty or will seething anger and revenge fuel Watson to his former All-Pro talent? He was the most productive quarterback in the NFL in 2020, his last season of action for the Texans.

While the game won’t be a matchup of Super Bowl contenders, Watson v. Texans will be dripping with controversy and intrigue. Sex sells, and Watson may now be a villain, at least in Houston, whose alleged sexual misbehavior will forever stain his reputation. If the crazy needed a cherry on top, Tony Buzbee, attorney for most of Watson's accusers, has said he will bring 10 of the masseuses to NRG Stadium on Sunday just to … whatever Buzbee thinks that will accomplish. Buzbee is not averse to publicity and this time it's personal.

Watson did nothing to tamp down the controversy surrounding Sunday’s game when he failed to meet the media on Wednesday, the day NFL quarterbacks typically hold a press conference. That might have been a calculated and understandable decision by the Browns. Watson has a history of putting his foot in his mouth by apologizing for his behavior and then seemingly taking it back. He did talk with the media on Thursday but would not address any non-football issues.

If Ringling Bros promised a three-ring event, Sunday's Texans and Browns clash is a no-rings circus. The Texans and Browns are two of only four current NFL teams that have never appeared in a Super Bowl. Stop guessing, the other two teams are the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars. The Texans are the one and only team that has never even sniffed a conference championship game.

True, Sunday’s game at NRG Stadium is a stinker on paper. The Texans are a dismal 1-9-1, the worst record in the NFL and trending in the wrong direction. The Browns are 4-7, tied for last place in the AFC North.

CBS is treating the game with the lack of respect and importance it deserves. The network will not be sending its No. 1 announce team, Jim Nantz, Tony Romo and Tracy Wolfson, to Houston. Nor will CBS be dispatching its No. 2 team, Ian Eagle, Charles Davis and Evan Washburn. Instead calling the action will be Spero Dedes, Jay Feely and Aditi Kinkhabwala.

On top of that, CBS will air the game only in a small sliver of Southeast Texas plus Lubbock. It will be, by far, the least visible game on CBS’ roadmap of America. Games between the Jets-Vikings, Broncos-Baltimore and Steelers-Falcons will carve up the rest of the country in Sunday’s noon game slot.

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DeMeco Ryans looks like the Texans' choice as the next head coach. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The Houston Texans have been busy interviewing coaches over the last few weeks, and just this week, the team held second interviews with Giants OC Mike Kafka and Broncos DC Ejiro Evero. The Texans have also interviewed Los Angeles Rams tight ends coach and assistant head coach Thomas Brown, Sean Payton, Lions OC Ben Johnson, Eagles DC Jonathan Gannon, and Eagles OC Shane Steichen. Johnson has taken himself out of the mix and is returning to Detroit.

But according to a new report from Ian Rapoport, the Texans may already have their minds made up about their next head coach.

Former Texans linebacker and current 49ers DC DeMeco Ryans appears to be the top candidate for the Texans, and he is reportedly interested in the position, with a second interview likely to take place next week.

Ryans has been the defensive coordinator for the 49ers over the last two seasons. San Francisco was the best defense in the league in 2022.

Ryans is a popular pick for the position in Houston, and fans will be super excited if he eventually gets the job. Let's hope Rapoport's sources are correct, and the Texans have their new head coach lined up.

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