Cleveland Browns owner making a mockery of second chances with Deshaun Watson | David Whitley

David Whitley
The Gainesville Sun
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The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award usually goes to a player. This season, it should go to an owner.

Jimmy Haslam of the Cleveland Browns deserves it for his humanitarian efforts on behalf of Deshaun Watson.

Oh sure, you may think Haslam’s a soulless schmuck for signing someone who’s been accused of sexual misconduct by half the massage therapists in Texas. But as Haslam explained, he was just following one of America’s core tenets.

No, not that it’s okay to sign a serial killer if he can help you win a championship. Haslam believes the Founding Fathers would have signed Watson out of a spirit of forgiveness.

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“I think in this country, and hopefully in the world, people deserve second chances,” Haslam said. “Is he never supposed to be a part of society? Does he get no chance to rehabilitate himself?”

Yes, he does. Perhaps at a 12-step massage-therapy addiction clinic where he learns the meaning of the word “remorse.” After agreeing to an 11-game suspension and $5 million fine last week, Watson was still proclaiming his innocence.

Who else deserves second chance? 

He sounds like O.J. Simpson, which gave me an idea. Haslam just wants people who’ve made mistakes to get second chances, right? If he really wants us to believe his Father Flanagan schtick, he should sign Simpson.

Sure, The Juice is 75. But Tom Brady will be playing at 75, and O.J. could use the money to help track down the real killers.

The Browns obviously need front office help. Harvey Weinstein might make a good CEO, and how about Bernie Madoff handle the team’s finances?

As for coach, the choice is obvious. Ohio State guy. NFL experience. Can get a little handsy around women.

Urban Meyer, come on down!

Seriously, the Urbanator doesn’t deserve a second chance. But he’s probably at least remorseful for his many Jacksonville mistakes. Haslam’s pet reclamation project still doesn’t think he did anything wrong. ...

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam hugs quarterback Deshaun Watson before the team's preseason game last week.

Stud of the Week: Defrocked Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt, who finished an impressive 23rd out of 415 entries in his first World Series of Poker event. Expect NCAA investigators to charge him with illegally recruiting the blackjack dealer. 

Dud of the Week: The Yankees, who’d lost nine of 12 going into Monday night’s game.

Dud II: Stephen A. Smith, for saying George Steinbrenner’s sons should crack down on the Yankees. “Even Hank and Hal ain’t tolerating that,” he said. “Forget about George. God rest his soul. I miss that man.” Hank Steinbrenner died in 2020. 

Dud III: FSU’s Sports Calligraphy Dept. At the top of a recruiting letter to four-star linebacker Lamont Green Jr. were the words “Offical Offer” and it went viral after a now-deleted Twitter post. Nobody at FSU noticed because they were too busy pre-complaining about ACC officials this season. ...

Nebraska coach Scott Frost on Sunday backed off his boast that offensive linemen were vomiting about 15-20 times in practice. Frost clarified that players only puked after seeing his game plan for the season opener against Northwestern. ...

With its starting punter injured, Ole Miss found a replacement on campus. “I don’t know a whole lot about him,” coach Lane Kiffin said. “I think he was down at a frat house, like at a keg party or something, where they got him from.”

Funny, that’s how FSU found its last two head coaches. ...

Dennis Rodman says he plans to go to Russia to help negotiate the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner. I suggest he offer Vince McMahon, Deshaun Watson, two of his wedding dresses and a spring football league to be named later. ...

The Wall Street Journal obtained a draft of a LIV Tour player contract. Players are required to wear only LIV apparel at events, assist in recruiting PGA Tour players, and use only Saudi-approved methods when torturing reporters. ...

From UF to talking heads: Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen

For what it’s worth, UF now leads the NCAA in producing football coaches who become TV talking heads. Fox announced Urban Meyer will rejoin its pregame crew, while ESPN inked Dan Mullen as an analyst. Ron Zook will probably be named host of WWE’s “Monday Night Raw” in a few days. ...

Listen Now!:Should Gators fans have hope? Or is more football disappointment on the way?

Founding Father Trivia: The printing of the Declaration of Independence was originally outsourced to FSU, but Thomas Jefferson pulled the contract after the paper came back titled “Decoration of Independence.” ...

Deshame Redux: Watson’s five-year contract will pay him $46 million a year starting in 2023, but only $1.05 million this season. That was done so he wouldn’t lose any real money during his 2022 suspension.

“I take accountability for the decisions I made,” Watson said.

And what better way to show it than by avoiding paying for those decisions? 

This Just In: The ACC has hired Dennis Rodman to help negotiate a release from its 20-year TV deal with ESPN. 

Correction: Bernie Madoff died in 2021 and therefore cannot be the Browns’ Chief Financial Officer. As punishment, I will change my name to David A. Smith for the next week. ...

That’s about all the space we have for this week’s Whitley’s Believe It or Not. Until next time, if you get an acceptance letter from FSU, make sure it’s "offical" before moving to Tallahassee.

— David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at Follow him on Twitter @DavidEWhitley.

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