Miami Dolphins need a lesson in denouncing bad behavior more than they need Deshaun Watson | Editorial

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Oct 29, 2021, 6:45:02 AM10/29/21
This is Miami. We can’t help rooting for the Dolphins, even if
we roll our eyes when we do. But the talk about the Dolphins
trading for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is a step
too far, even for us. No talent upgrade for this team is worth
the kind of controversy Watson brings, at least right now.

The 26-year-old star — and he is one — is facing a criminal
investigation and 22 civil lawsuits alleging a pattern of lewd
behavior with women hired to provide personal services, such as
massages. The FBI has gotten involved, though that may be aimed
at one of the accusers and an extortion claim. It’s a mess, and
the Dolphins should steer clear. Not just for the team, but for
the broader message they are sending.

Yes, this is professional football. Watson is one of the best in
the league at his job, and the money at stake is huge. (Watson
signed a four-year contract extension last year worth almost
$111 million.) And that means much of the discussion has focused
on questions of sports strategy — what about the current
quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa? — rather than the kinds of values
the NFL is promoting here.

Plus, we know that if Miami landed him, most fans would cast
aside their concerns the minute he starts putting touchdowns on
the scoreboard.

But the allegations against Watson are no minor blow-up,
something that can be swept away with a good PR person and a
bunch of wins. The Miami Dolphins — and the NFL — are supposed
to be trying to clean up their images. Yet there are reports
that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has approved the trade with one
huge sticking point: He wants Watson’s legal problems cleaned up
before it is executed. But unless the court system suddenly
shifts into warp speed, there’s no way those legal problems will
be addressed before the NFL trading deadline on Tuesday. Ross
may just be trying to offer a glimmer of hope to fans — while
guaranteeing the trade can’t happen — but why do we even have to
discuss this?

No team should be willing to bring on a player with so many
unresolved and serious issues. Ross had a chance to say that at
the NFL owners meeting earlier this week, but he didn’t. He told
the reporters trying to ask him questions: “I know what it’s
about, and I’m not dealing with it.”

Football, and sports in general, needs to deal with “it” — a
culture that would much rather ignore persistent sex and gender
issues than deal with them.

What does it say that hockey has also had to face allegations
that current Florida Panthers coach Joel Quenneville knew about
the Chicago Blackhawks sexual abuse case when he was head coach
there? (This, as the Panthers enter the season with the best
start in their history.) A lawsuit was filed in May alleging
that a former video coach had molested two players in 2010. By
June, the Blackhawks had ordered up an independent
investigation, and this week, the team released the findings.
Two top team members resigned followed by Quenneville on
Thursday. Though the allegations go back a decade, hockey is
dealing with this issue pretty quickly.

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