It may be too little and too late when it comes to reversing the verdict in the court of public opinion. That may not stop Deshaun Watson‘s camp from trying to do just that.
Currently, there are indications that, as soon as next week, Deshaun Watson’s representatives will launch a media offensive aimed at challenging the lingering allegations against him. With 20 cases officially settled, four lawsuits remain — along with the vague notion that more lawsuits could be filed.
Since the first case began, Watson’s camp has been unable to commence or sustain a P.R. strategy that has secured any real traction among the media or the general public. At this point, there’s only one way to make it happen — by releasing smoking-gun excerpts from witness testimony that reveal serious if not fatal flaws in the allegations against Watson.
It’s unknown whether such evidence exists. If it did, it should have been released previously. Regardless, it’s possible if not likely that the next stage in this 16-month saga will include a far more aggressive effort by Watson’s lawyers and agents to fight back.
There’s a distinct sense of optimism for Watson emerging from the three-day disciplinary hearing before Judge Sue L. Robinson, based on the quality of the evidence submitted by the league in support of its quest for a minimum suspension of one year. If Watson doesn’t receive a significant suspension, there will be a strong negative reaction from some. However, there’s a distinct chance that Judge Robinson’s decision will fall far short of the outcome the NFL wants (indefinite suspension of at least one year).
Although any effort to get Watson’s side of the situation out more aggressively should have happened a while ago, especially since attorney Tony Buzbee has been working the media zealously and effectively since Day One, it makes even more sense to do so now. With Judge Robinson’s decision quite possibly being announced as training camps start to open, and given the potentially seismic reaction to a short suspension or none at all, it becomes critical for everyone involved — Watson, the Browns, the league, the NFL Players Association, and even Judge Robinson — for public expectations to be properly managed to account for the possibility that Watson won’t miss much time at all, if any.
Of course, the ultimate vehicle for making the case to the public will be Judge Robinson’s written decision. It needs to be clear, it needs to be logical, it needs to make sense to the average person who reads it. Unless the four remaining cases go to trial, Judge Robinson’s decision will become the only real adjudication of the facts, allegations, and defenses involving Deshaun Watson. Judge Robinson’s decision will be heavily scrutinized, and it will need to be bulletproof — whatever her decision may be.