The Houston Texans drafted Derrick “Deshaun” Watson with the 12th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Watson was the third quarterback drafted overall after Mitchell Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes.
Watson was fresh off leading the Clemson Tigers to their first National Championship in 37 years and he’d done so by going toe-to-toe with the juggernaut known as Alabama football in back-to-back title games, winning one and losing one in close fashion.
The Texans drafted Watson, whose college coach described him as The “Michael Jordan” of football, to be their franchise quarterback under the head coach Bill O’Brien. That description makes sense considering that growing up, Watson played basketball more than football and dreamed of being like former Duke and NBA sharpshooter J.J. Redick.
Houston’s GOAT QB Arrives
Watson promised to make the NFL pay for drafting an inferior quarterback ahead of him and hit the ground running in his rookie season, throwing a rookie-record 16 touchdown passes in the month of October. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL during the first November game ending his very solid rookie campaign.
Following successful knee surgery, he was disrespectfully-ranked as the 50th best player coming into the 2018 season. All he did for an encore was lead the Texans to a division title, with over 4,000 passing yards, 26 touchdown passes and just 9 interceptions.
He also rushed for over 550 yards and 5 touchdowns, showing his true dual-threat ability in Bill O’Brien’s offensive scheme. Although the Texans came up short in the playoffs, the talent of this franchise signal-caller was undeniable.
The one knock was his holding the football too long in the pocket. His release of the football ranked second to last in the league, which led to him being pressured (281 times) and sacked (62 times) which is still the fifth-most ever in a single season.
What’s crazy is this didn’t seem to happen much when O’Brien had other quarterbacks that were not “Melanated”, so a lot of this was more about scheme than Watson being late on reads and ball delivery.
Things in Houston never seemed settled. The roster pieces never fully complemented his incredible talents, but Watson did such a great job of masking things that weren’t right by being a leader and carrying a franchise.
Systemic Racism Plagues the Texans
Late Texans owner Bob McNair was a huge reason for the unsettled feeling, as he was at the forefront of owners raging against Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling for racial inequality, social injustice, and against police brutality.
His comments and actions created a stir and raucous in Houston and around the league.
During a three-hour confidential meeting between NFL owners in October 2017, McNair stated “you fellas need to ask your compadres to stop that other business (kneeling) and let’s go out and do something that really produces positive results, and we’ll help you.”
He refused to say “kneel”, but McNair was vocal about his stance concerning the national anthem for the better part of a year. He also compared NFL players to “inmates running the prisons” for their protests.
He later apologized for the comments but on the other hand, says he “regretted giving the apology” as he felt he had nothing to apologize for.
The damage was already done with his comments. That same month the aforementioned Kaepernick filed a grievance against the NFL for blackballing (COLLUSION) Kaep out of the league.
Commissioner Roger Goodell and McNair were deposed in the case. In September of that year, President Trump even took it as far as to recommend in one of his many legendary Tweets during his four-year Presidential run, that any player who kneels should be fired from their job.
The Threat Of Being Blackballed Like Kaepernick
When McNair’s comments were made, Watson, as a Black quarterback, didn’t have the leverage or job security to speak out against his owner’s racist comments. That’s the kind of suppression the owners were aiming for when they tried to make an example out of Colin Kaepernick.
Since then, however, we are increasingly seeing more teams being led by brothers and that is a byproduct of a significant social movement that’s leaked into the sports world. Athletes are using their platforms to speak against the injustices that plague our nation.
Because of this movement, the NFL & its owners can’t as easily use players as examples to flex their oppressive powers. Now social justice and sports are joined at the hip.
Watson felt severe pressure about the ramifications of speaking out against his team’s owner. He mentioned the hardships of playing for an owner who made those types of comments, especially when he compared his players’ social justice stance to “inmates” running the prison.”
Watson said these exact words as it pertained to speaking up:
“To keep it real with you, I feel like whenever a Black quarterback speaks up, the outside world sometimes doesn’t think they’re educated enough to know what’s going on. So in reality they’re like, ‘Hey y’all Black quarterbacks ….. shut up and play. Y’all have no idea what you’re talking about. “
New Day. Watson Wants Out
With Watson no longer afraid to speak his mind, Watson is willing to take the criticism that comes with being a new outspoken athlete. He also has some guaranteed money in his pocket, which often frees up the lips a bit as well. The good thing is, he’s not alone in this movement. Sports hasn’t had a social movement like this since the 60’s and athletes are learning the power of their voices.
Texans fans want him back, but the organization and Cal McNair will have to work hard to fix the relationship. Watson feels irreparably disrespected.
CBS Sports analyst and former Raiders CEO Amy Trask joined Payne and Pendergast to discuss the situation with Watson and the Texans’ front office.
“I believe this rests on Cal McNair to try and repair this damage.”
Bill O’Brien’s Shortsightedness Drops The Ball & The Bag
In 2019 the Texans, behind the exceptional play of Watson, once again won the AFC South and hosted a home playoff game.
They won that game over the Bills and actually led the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs (24-0) at Arrowhead, before Mahomes & Company scored an absurd 41 straight points behind the playcalling wizardry of offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy for a 51-31 comeback win.
2020 brought many obstacles unlike any ever seen for most of us, and that pertains to sports as well.
In March the Texans, led by Bill O’Brien, who became the GM and head coach after the team fired their Black GM and Executive Vice President Of Football Operations Rick Smith, inexplicably traded all-world wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals — much to the dismay of Watson.
In September 2020 Watson was awarded a 4-year ($156M) extension, but still feeling the sting of the trade of fellow Clemson Tigers alumnus Hopkins.
With the bag secured, however, Watson decided to look forward. The excuse O’Brien gave for trading away his QB’s best offensive weapon, was total bologna, saying he thought there was a power struggle within the locker room and Hopkins was too well liked per reports.
Another leaked report stated an issue concerning Hopkins having his children’s mothers around the team too much. Watson was never consulted on the move and that’s just wrong.
Consider this: Do you think his white counterparts wouldn’t be consulted if their franchises were thinking of trading their No.1 option in the passing game?
I seriously doubt it .
The Last Straw
The team began 0-4 in the 2020 season and O’Brien was fired. Houston didn’t finish with a great record (4-12) but Watson had his best season as a pro and they played with a looseness and freeness they’d been missing under O’Brien.
Star defensive end JJ Watt was elated to see O’Brien finally fired and he basically stated this following the team winning its first game.
As the 2020 season came to an end, there was talk about the head coaching vacancy in Houston being a great fit for current Chiefs offensive mastermind Eric Bieniemy.
Watson had even consulted Patrick Mahomes about Bieniemy. Mahomes said he’d be a great hire for the franchise and especially for Watson who possesses a similar skillset.
Heir owner Cal McNair hired a firm to help with his team’s GM search and they told him the two best candidates were Omar Khan (Steelers) and Louis Riddick (MNF Color Analyst and Former NFL Front Office Exec).
At the last minute, he deviated and hired Nick Caserio (Patriots). This upset many in the organization as the Koran Ferry firm had done the work and ended up with two minority candidates and he completely ignored them.
“The Texans invited Watson to give input for both the G.M. hire and the head-coaching hire. He did, and the team disregarded his input. The Texans initially ignored his recommendation that Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy be interviewed for the head-coaching job. (Also) the Texans completely ignored Watson’s recommendation that former 49ers defensive coordinator (and now Jets head coach) Robert Saleh be interviewed for the job.
To those who point out that quarterbacks aren’t supposed to play that kind of a role in the management of a team, two points: (1) the Texans asked him to play that role; and (2) since quarterbacks are expected to be quasi-members of management, why shouldn’t they play that kind of a role in the management of a team?”
Watson was fuming and began to question the direction of the franchise, as he was assured he’d be kept in the loop of the hiring process of both the GM and head coach.
Following his comments, they all of a sudden wanna do a zoom interview with the guy who’s helped create this “Mahomes Mania” as we know it.
One has to begin to wonder, if not traded, will Watson withhold his services this coming season?