Rob Issa, FISM News
Deshaun Watson will play his first game in 700 days against his former team in his old stadium when his Cleveland Browns travel to face the Houston Texans on Sunday.
Watson wouldn’t talk about his 11-game suspension or his league-mandated counseling sessions in his first comments since rejoining the Browns, saying “I have been advised to stay away from that and keep that personal.”
The 27-year-old, three-time Pro Bowl quarterback who has been accused by more than two dozen women of sexual harassment and assault during massage sessions insisted on talking only about football during a news conference on Thursday.
Watson thanked the Browns, their fans, and the city of Cleveland for “embracing” him and showed appreciation for Houston and the Texans organization.
“It has been awesome and it has been great being out, going to dinners and to social places, being able to hang out with some of the fans and interact with them,” he said. “I also just want to thank everyone that has been sending out some positive energy toward my way.”
Asked if his time away made him appreciate who he is and what he has, Watson was reflective.
“I am always appreciative,” he said.
I am always thankful for what I have. My mom went through tongue cancer when I was 14 years old, and she never smoked a day in her life. I have always been appreciative. I grew up with pretty much nothing if you knew my background story. Every step I make each and every day and every time I wake up, I thank the Lord because I am a God-fearing man, and I know who my Lord and Savior is. That is my main focus each and every day. When I wake up, I give Him thanks, and I thank everyone around me who helped me get to this moment because I didn’t do it by myself.
Watson played four seasons in Houston before demanding a trade in 2021 because he didn’t like the direction the team was heading. He sat out the season after several women made their accusations. Watson maintained his innocence and two grand juries in Texas declined to indict him over the allegations. The Browns then traded several draft picks to get him and signed him to an unprecedented $235 million, five-year contract that is fully guaranteed.
Watson has settled 23 civil lawsuits brought by the women, while two others are still pending.
Veteran Jacoby Brissett filled in for Watson as the starting quarterback and led the Browns to a 4-7 record.
“I also want to thank most importantly, Jacoby, the big brother he has been to me and everyone in that locker room, the passion, the grit, and the leadership he has shown these past weeks — everyone has been seeing seen it — he is the ultimate guy that everyone wants to follow,” Watson said. “He has been awesome for me. Our relationship has been great. The bond has been great. We are going to continue to grow from there and help win some more football games for the Cleveland Browns.”
Despite the team’s losing record, Watson sees potential. The offense has one of the league’s best rushing attacks featuring Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
“It is exciting. You can see it on Sundays that they play with a high motor. Everyone is playing together. It is one unit,” Watson said. “I also got to go through spring and training camp with them so I kind of knew the locker room and how those guys were going to play, but watching them on Sundays, the game is never over. Those guys are going to continue to play until the final whistle. I am excited to be able to try to bring that and prove that energy as much as I can with those guys, also.”
Wide receiver Amari Cooper is eager to play with Watson for the first time.
“He is a great player,” Cooper said. “You have been able to see it over the years. One of the big things that he does well is when a play breaks down, he is able to kind of make something out of nothing.”
Editor’s Biblical Analysis
More than two dozen women have accused DeShaun Watson of actions that are, without a doubt, sinful by Biblical standards of sexuality if true. I won’t describe them in any detail here, but I shall give a brief analysis.
- Outside of marriage and a defilement of the marriage bed? Check. (Hebrews 13:4, 1 Cor. 7:1-40)
- Looking at a woman lustfully? Yep. (Matt. 5:28, Prov. 6:25, Deut. 5:21)
- Forcing or deceiving a woman into sexual activity against her will? Indeed. (Deut 22:25-29, 2 Samuel 13:14-32)
I cannot write with total assurance that these things happened. On one hand, Watson claims innocence, and Texas grand juries refused to indict. On the other, more than two dozen claims and nearly every one resulted in out-of-court settlements.
It is safe to conclude from his comments that DeShaun Watson publicly proclaims to be a Christian. He was reportedly baptized in the Jordan River during a trip to Israel in 2019.
So how do we, as Christians, respond to this particular situation and others like it, when a brother or sister in Christ is accused of sexual sin, possibly even crime?
For the vast majority of us, the answer is that we should pray.
First, we should pray for every victim of sexual abuse, assault, and exploitation. Deuteronomy 22:26 makes it clear that those who are forced against their will into sexual activity are victims and not guilty of sin. In fact, the verse compares sexual assault victims to murder victims. The scars and pain of sexual abuse are not easily healed. We should pray that God gives grace to all victims and that through faith they will find healing in Christ Jesus.
We should also pray for those currently living in prideful sexual immorality, that they will answer God’s call to repent of their sin and proclaim Him as Lord and Savior, gaining eternal life in the process. For those who know they are sinful and have put their faith in Christ, but are struggling to stop sinning, we should pray that God provides them with the people, the tools, and the spirit to turn from their sin for good.
Give Accountability and be Accountable
The Christian brothers in DeShaun’s life — be they teammates, coaches, church leaders, friends, or relatives — need to provide accountability. The same goes for all Christians who know a brother or sister is losing the battle with sexual immorality. Battles are much more easily won with fellow believers by your side, ready to help in the fight.
First, we must follow the Bible’s instructions for going to a brother or sister who is living in unrepentant sin. Whether or not that is DeShaun’s case is between him, God, and his brothers who seek his accountability. But when it is the case, Matthew 18:15-17 tells us exactly how to handle calling a fellow believer to repentance of sin. If they refuse to repent, “let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector” (Matt. 18:17).
Sin enslaves those who commit it (John 8:34, 2 Peters 2:19), but confession cleanses and heals us (1 John 1:9, James 5:16). While ultimately, we no longer need a high priest, and we have only been called to confess our sins to Christ, sharing the truth with others can set us free from shackles that bind us in our private lives. A great tool for those living in sexual sin is to make a commitment with those close brothers and sisters in Christ to repent and turn away from that sin and ask that he or she be held accountable.
There are helpful resources for online accountability, which can be a fantastic weapon in fighting sexual immorality on the internet and on your devices. In today’s digital world, the vast majority of sexual immorality has an online connection.
Accountability apps like Ever Accountable, Covenant Eyes, and others help you and your accountability partner(s) in your fight against sexual immorality by tracking online activity and sending reports to chosen accountability partners. It may sound uncomfortable, but battle always is. If you want to defeat sexual immorality in your life or help someone else do so, you’re going to have to do some tough work. It will be a lot easier with the right tools and Godly people helping, though.
Turn our eyes, hearts, and minds to Christ
Our society is plagued with sexual immorality. The only sin that a person commits against his or her own body (1 Cor. 6:18) is celebrated in the media marketed to our children, described in detail in the books on display at our school libraries, paraded with pride in the streets, and will soon be signed into federal law. And every person living in sexual sin is a victim of it.
Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
Christian, be bold in your stand for Biblical living in all walks of life. Do not fall victim to the secular moral code, ever-transforming to the latest trends and fleshly desires of sinful people. And do not allow your family to fall victim to it, either. In love, proclaim the Good News of Christ crucified and risen. Call sinners to repentance. And boldly live the word of Scripture, shining the light of God’s love in the world so brightly that the darkness no longer has anywhere to hide.
For many of us — most especially victims of abuse and assault — this is the hardest part to do, and understandably so. But if we ask God to forgive our sins, then we must also forgive one another (Mark 11:25, Col. 3:13, Matthew 6:14-15, Eph. 4:32). Refusing forgiveness hurts the one holding the resentment in his or her heart far more than anyone else. So forgive those who have wronged you and others, so that they may wrong you no longer and you also may live in forgiveness.
Our secular world does not believe in forgiveness. “Cancel culture” has arisen from an ideology that cannot forgive violations to its extremely narrow, unclear, and perverted sense of morality. Christianity, on the other hand, is based on the will of God, the ultimate morality, as clearly defined in Scripture. And though we all fall short of His standard, God offers us all forgiveness through the blood of Jesus and calls us to forgive one another.
In Watson’s case, no charges were brought against him for any crime. The NFL chose to suspend him, and the length of that suspension has been a widely debated subject.
I do not sit in a position where I can make the judgment for either judicial or professional prosecution. I have no desire nor any right to play grand jury, judge, prosecutor, or human resources rep. I also do not wish for my words of forgiveness to be skewed to convey that criminals should not face punishment. The Bible is clear both about forgiveness, as well as justice. Those who commit sexual crimes should face punishment for their action (Romans 1:26-27).
“For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life,” (Galatians 6:8).
Though God forgives, what we reap we will sow. Sexual sin reaps disease, unwanted pregnancy, rejection, depression, and sometimes even death. Crime reaps prison time, monetary loss, personal stigma, and other destructive forces in life.
Forgiveness and judgment are not at odds. We can and should forgive while still seeing that those who violate the law are disciplined for their actions within the workings of a just legal system.