The polarization of Deshaun Watson crosses lines of race, sports culture, masculinity, and even the fraternal brotherhood that is the NFL. Black America has to grapple with yet another young man who has disappointed his community due to predatory behavior while being celebrated as one who made it.
Former NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III spoke on the circumstances regarding the NFL’s upgraded 11-game suspension and $5 million fine against Watson. As a Black quarterback, speaking out against another Black man on a rarefied platform is challenging, but Griffin took a strong position.
RG3 on Deshaun Watson suspension “I’m sick for all the women out there” pic.twitter.com/knCy18xTBb
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) August 18, 2022
“I think it’s more about how does it make all the women out there feel after this decision came down because you hear contradictory statements there from Jimmy Haslam saying that, ‘Hey, he deserves a second chance.’ But what does he deserve a second for if he’s standing on his innocence? For me, the NFL had an opportunity here to really look at the history that they have when standing up for women and supporting women and come out and show that they had learned from those lessons, and I feel like they failed miserably.
Griffin felt that the NFL’s upgraded suspension of 11 games from six and the $5 million fine just wasn’t enough to send a message. For him, being an NFL brother-in-arms or even a Black man was secondary to the care he feels for women.
“For me, as a father of three daughters, soon to be four daughters, I’m sick for all the women out there for this that happened because when you look at what Sue L. Robinson ruled and found in this arbitration with the NFL, it’s very clear that everything that he did was qualified as sexual assault. He posed a genuine danger to the safety and well-being of another person. He undermined or put at risk the integrity of the NFL, and his conduct was determined to be nonviolent sexual conduct and nonviolent sexual assault.”
The NFL had an opportunity to show it had learned from its ugly history on standing up for Women with this Deshaun Watson case and IT FAILED. 11 games and a 5 million dollar fine doesn’t fit what he was accused of doing and found to have done by Judge Sue L. Robinson. Sickening.
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) August 18, 2022
The issue at hand with cases like Watson or even R. Kelly, although more extreme and for a bigger length of time, calls into question the cultural solidarity Black people are apt to feel for successful Black men. Judge Sue L. Robinson, who was first hired to give a recommended ruling for Watson, went soft in many people’s opinions. The pressure placed on the NFL after made some believe the NFL wasn’t being genuine or wanted to make an example of a Black man who was already brought low for his transgressions.
However, sans an early apology and still sticking by his innocence, some like RGIII feel Watson is a cautionary tale of the NFL’s tone-deaf stance.
“So for the people out there who are saying it’s he said, she said and innocent until proven guilty, yes, Judge Sue L. Robinson’s job was not to convict Deshaun Watson, but she did state that what he did was not only against NFL rules but honestly just terrible.”
After the last two preseason games of the 2022 season, Deshaun Watson won’t touch a football again for the Cleveland Browns until December. That’s still not long enough for Griffin.