The Browns’ decision to trade for quarterback Deshaun Watson drew mixed reactions from the team’s fans. Some loved it, despite the off-field issues. Some hated it, given the off-field issues.
There were no signs of negativity on Saturday, for the first public practice of training camp. As explained by Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland Plain DealershipWatson received an “enthusiastic reception” from fans who attended the session.
Watson was enthralled with enthusiasm. He lingered long after practice was over to sign autographs, pose for photos, sign his cleats and give them to a few kids who beat him in a game of rock, paper, scissors and walked out in his socks.
That doesn’t mean some team fans have grown indifferent to the arrival of a man who faced 24 lawsuits for sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions. (Twenty of them have been settled.) That just means none of those fans attended practice on Saturday, or none of them felt comfortable turning a inherently positive event into something that included even a hint of protest.
Anyway, the passage of time tends to make even the worst things a little bit better, especially since a horrible start to the summer (from a PR perspective) yielded to an audience of three days which apparently went much better for Watson than expected and one month without development, which is much better than a month of worse developments.
Now everyone is still waiting for Judge Sue L. Robinson’s decision on whether Watson will be suspended (he likely will be) and for how long (the Browns, we’re told, are gearing up for eight games ).
For now, all the Browns can do is prepare for week one, which unfolds whether or not Watson is there and for how long he won’t be.
“I can’t wait for us to get to [play with him in games], whatever week we see him,” tight end David Njoku told reporters on Saturday. “Hopefully, sooner than later.”
This is the basic reality for players and fans unaffected by the allegations. All that matters is having one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks on the court. And until they know how long he will be out, the focus remains on preparing for the games ahead.
“We just have to take each day as it is,” Njoku added. “Whoever we have, we have to do our best and keep working.”
They will continue to work in the meantime. It shouldn’t take long. Again, it’s surprising that it took so long.