It’s not official, and the NFL still has time to act before it becomes so. Not that it will, and Roger Goodell will get that blank look with the pursed lips that he always gets when he’s asked anything resembling a tough question and all the wires in his brain fizzle and short. If you look into his eyes deep enough you can actually see the rainbow wheel of death spinning at these moments.
So there it is. And let me present a vision of the future, while noting that the easy, unavoidable joke is that there couldn’t be a more perfect place and fanbase for Deshaun Watson to land. But here’s what will happen: A local reporter, maybe an Eagles beat writer, will be standing outside The Linc in the parking lot, surrounded by cheering and screaming Eagles fans interrupting his/her stand-up. They’ll be drowned out by fans screaming. Perhaps one of the fans yells something truly terrible about one of the plethora of women suing Watson for assault (Ha, “perhaps.” You can book this). Maybe there’s an unholy distasteful sign someone’s holding up that some producer or intern is going to have to try and grab before it’s on live TV for more than 10 seconds. We know how that will go.
Twitter will flood with videos of celebrating Eagles fans in the streets, at bars, in their homes. The messages there will be far worse than anything that gets on TV. NFL Network will be filled with analysts breaking down what Watson means for the Eagles on the field, and on the field only. What it means for Jalen Hurts. How Watson will dovetail with DeVonta Smith, could it mean a playoff berth, etc. There will be a furor. ESPN will be no different.
So what will any of the women suing or accusing Watson of sexual assault, those considering police cases, think? What will any fan of the NFL who is also a survivor of sexual assault think? The message will be clear that their feelings, their history, their being doesn’t matter. There’s plays to be made on the field, after all. The violation of you is secondary to a skinny post.
The NFL asked for this by not putting Watson on some sort of restricted/commissioner’s list to keep him from training camp in Houston, much less a trade destination like Philadelphia. Perhaps they thought that no one would trade for him given what he’s under, but as always, the thirst for wins will outweigh any morality, which means that by not cleaning up the smaller mess, the NFL will get a bigger one it can do nothing about.
Not that it’ll matter. They’ll still do the best ratings of any TV show. The tickets will all be sold. No. 4 jerseys in green will fly off the shelves. The money will pour in like an avalanche comin’ down the mountain. This is why Goodell can have that look on his face whenever challenged. Even he can’t seem to get in the way of that cash flow.