Deshaun Watson Is Ready To Be Heard
Breaking News on Sportscenter the Texans Shawn Watson are finalizing a four year deal worth north of one hundred and seventy seven, million dollars. So Watson trails only quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his twelve year deal with chiefs as the largest in NFL history. When does Shawn? Watson takes the field tomorrow night to kick off the NFL season. It'll be as a college national champion, a two time pro bowler, and now the second highest paid player in the game. Rudolph Watson has remained quiet and reserved rarely sharing the frustration felt at times as a black quarterback in the NFL. Today. A different side of the Shawn. Watson courtesy of ESPN's Tim Cuban who sat down with Watson to learn how the Texans quarterback is finding his voice. I'm Pablo Tori. It's. September nine. This. IS ESPN daily. Tim. Queuing. Thank you for joining me man Hey Pablo. Good to be here. Thank you for having me. I want to start our conversation with a moment from your interview with the Shawn Watson for your latest ESPN cover story because you talked to him in July over zoom from your home in northern California where you are now and he was two thousand miles away in Houston and you ask them this very pointed question you asked what? Mean, challenges does a lack quarterback face when decided to speak up on social issues. How did this Shawn Watson answer that question? Pablo he answered it in two different ways and to very illustrative ways I would say. He started by saying I. Think you have to watch what you say sometimes. See I think I think you have to watch what you say sometimes. That was the the standard answer. And then he stopped he looked down is if almost to chastise himself, he slapped his hands on his knees and he said, honestly I'm GonNa take that back I felt like. I felt like. Whenever. Black. quarterback especially speaks up dowse world sometimes on their educated enough to know what's going on. So in reality they like, Hey, all. Black QUARTERBACK S. Shut up I know talking about. That switch that he made taking it from what the outside world would think of him to what he thinks of that I thought was was really indicative of this change that he's made personally in the last say six months. It was like he's still a work in progress. He's twenty four years old. He's a young man and he's still sort of has to remind himself that he's no longer straddling this corporate line that he's had to to straddle for three years as an NFL quarterback. Let's trace that trajectory then because in profiling Watson, you traveled to his hometown. Of GAINESVILLE. Georgia what did you learn about his thing? He started out in a public housing project pulled Harrison Square, and if you watch to Sean play, you'll see the wristbands that have eight, one, five on them, and that is as a Al-Majd to eight one, five Harrison Square where he started out with his mom and three siblings. Everyone says to Sean was was just this facilitator. He was everyone's and. He had this charisma about him where he would bring other people along just because he was confident in how good he was. He had been developing as a phenomenal athlete, not just a football player, but he was a great basketball player. and to Sean was just had this ability, he could do whatever he wanted even at that age. He would always pass the ball. He would always pick the kid at the end of line and bring him on his team. He just had that welcoming personality and he was not boastful he was quietly confident. And he became the star of Gainesville. Georgia winning a State Championship in football and taking his basketball team to the final four. From the outside, it appears that he had sort of a gilded life. We always start positive. We always you know anything any -versity of negative stuff that hit us. We always make sure that you know we learn from a real quick and then we turn to page and keep it pushing and keep moving forward. You've painted this relatively rosy picture of Shawn Watson childhood where he gets celebrated early for being this great athlete. But. Is there a moment where he realized how his race in particular could impact his life? He started in high school actually Pablo understanding that he couldn't speak to the media or school administrators or teachers, or or really people in the white world. The same way that he could speak to his friends and his family that he developed this different way of being socially acceptable and it Clemson it became more a part of him. He he got to the point where he didn't even have to think about. It he just when he got into a press conference, he spoke one way when he went out and got into the locker room with his friends, he spoke another way knowing that he couldn't. He would not be accepted or seen as this leader that a power five conference Clemson quarterback is supposed to be if he was essentially himself the way let's be honest. A white quarterback can be himself wherever he is. So this trickles down even to his wardrobe right this changes how he strategizes around what he can even wear. And more importantly perhaps the way people view what he wears, which is just remarkable to think that a college twenty year old is being judged when he goes to the White House. After they win the National Championship, you can see the pictures online he's wearing a very nice red tie and Blue Navy Blazer and a white shirt, and he was criticized because his pants were too tight a year later after he won the national championship when he was with the Texans as a rookie, he went back to the national championship game with Clemson and Alabama for the coin. Toss. He was out. It's at midfield. He was wearing a purple eight hundred and fifty dollar of Volun- SIAGA sweatshirt that he had borrowed from De'andre Hopkins because he had forgotten to pack his outfit and it was deemed not worthy of a leader people were looking at this sweatshirt and how could you wear that to this such an important game and to think of being that scrutinized with everything that you do from one thing it has to be tiresome. Secondly, it just has to be such a burden to be as you said, so aware of every little aspect of your life. So, when to Sean gets to the Texans he experiences to relatively public incidents involving race. What were they? The most obvious one came when he late in a game against the titans. They're down twenty, two, seventeen he ends up throwing the ball to Andrea Hopkins for a thirty, one yard gain should have thrown it to the end zone, but there was just nothing there watson with five seconds asked to throw it middle of the Field Hopkins, it's too late. Wow. Big Mistake by the Shawn Watson now the Texans and a superintendent of schools in Texas went on facebook and said this is why you can't ever trust a black quarterback in a pivotal moment of the game And Sean was asked about that. Superintendent. North ear saying can apply. And he he just kind of smiled gave that sort of Koi to sean look and said May. Be Him. I worry about me so I'm not worried about what he had to say. That's the whole thing in a nutshell is that he can't at the time, find it within himself in his position to say what everyone else was thinking, which was that this was. Unfair racist and borderline say. The other incident is even crazier in another way Tim because. It involves the owner of the team lots of tension at Texans, Campbell Friday stemmed from comments from the team's owner Bob McNair at NFL meetings last week during a discussion about player protests against police brutality and other injustices McNamara said the quote we can't have the inmates running the prison I actually was there in Houston reporting story, Unto Sean. When this came out ESPN's Don, Van Natta and seth. wicker Sham reported that in an owner's meeting that was in discussion about protests for the national anthem the kneeling that whole thing. that. Bob McNair said we can't have the inmates running the prison. This obviously became a huge topic in the Texans Locker Room however to Sean refused all comment about it actually interviewed him two days later in the precondition of the interview was that you can't ask him about that while so it was something that was that was very hurtful to the to the players in that locker room and I, asked Sean about that this time I said, would your reaction have been different if that happened right now and without question just immediately he just said, yes, that it definitely would be any express some regret that he was silent at that time. That's a crazy detail that a precondition was that he could not talk about the thing that he is so passionate about talking about now but that precondition seems like came from a sense and instinct of protecting. Shawn Watson. What was he afraid of? What did he need to be protected from at that point? Well, I think we only have to look at Colin Kaepernick for that answer he had to be protected from. Somebody would decide his punishment would be if he went over the the company Line, the Colin Kaepernick shadow has been such a factor in a lot of players willingness to speak up about social justice issues, their willingness to take on their own management of their teams in the League. I feel like there's there the capper nick example was used as sort of this sword to hold these guys, heads and yes to Shawn Watson is a better player than Colin. Kaepernick. was at the time that he was taken out of the League. But I don't think that anyone had real assurances that talent at that time was going to outweigh whatever public relations problem team thought it might get with a player speaking out. I mean that soared tim the threat of it the gravity of it it was palpable even as late as January of this year because Watson was featured on ESPN undefeated television special on the black quarterbacks specifically, and he said this from me personally anything on the air politics religion. I stay away and that's the safest way to go why because they're really. They can be a right and. A right and wrong or yes or no but Riyadh everyone is going to be how own opinions you're not really you're fighting about it as you can't really win. This is so clearly now a different answer than the one he gave you in your interview with him. Did he address specifically what the precipitating cause of that change was? I? Think it can be one name and it's George Floyd. I. Really think that that changed so many minds and it made so many people like to Shawn Watson in and out of sports not just sports say something needs to be done and if I feel repercussions for speaking out about this, it's on you and no longer on me. The business of that event really caused to Sean to say, okay, you know I been heading this way. I feel this way I'm going to say what I feel. Coming up how does Shawn Watson has reacted to this moment in history and the changes he's helped bring about at his Alma Mater. 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Don't miss this extra special week. One bonus enter code ESPN daily to get a free shot at the one million dollar top prize with your first deposit that's code ESPN daily only at draftkings make it rain. Minimum five dollar deposit required eligibility restrictions apply see draftkings dot com for details. So Tim I want to dive even deeper into Watson's public transformation this year and I want to do that with a story from your piece in the twenty eighteen off season to Shawn, Watson and his private quarterback coach and friend Quincy Avery. They make this trip to China. What did they see their? Day attended a military parade at Tiananmen Square one night and as they were sitting there watching it, there was a protester who ran out into the middle of the army started screaming whatever his cause was whatever his message was a van showed up as quincy every told me they. They rough the guy up a little. They throw him in the van took off like nothing happened. You know the parade went on it was just basically that guy never existed. and. They had a conversation to sean in Quincy did about what they had seen and how. That man knew that he was he knew what was in store for him when he when he made that decision that really struck them as as powerful and is something that kind of lingered in their mind this is before to Sean started speaking out but it was something that really stayed with him in that vision of that man kind of became a little bit of an inspiration as the events of the past six months start to unfold. Tension building tonight in Minneapolis after an unarmed black man died after being arrested and pinned to the ground bite officer, he can be heard on the video saying I can't breathe. That six month period. Touches off with the killing of George Floyd on May twenty fifth of the year in the immediate aftermath of Floyd's death. What does Shawn Watson Do? First off, he reached out to the family of George. Floyd knowing that there was going to be a march through the streets of Houston, which was George Floyd's hometown. And he marched with now. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson was among those supporting the Floyd yesterday during the march he shared a photo of him saying prayers for the. Floyd. He stood side by side with George Floyd's family marching through the streets of Houston peacefully protesting. His presence meant a lot to that family but more than anything I. think it meant a lot to him to be able to not take the spotlight away but simply march with them, show his compassion, his support and sort of ease into this new role that he's willing to take on. He did it with purpose and he did it without question. He said that that was just something that he felt he had to do as a representative of his team and his city. So that happened relatively quietly as you alluded to. But soon, enough the volume on the Sean Watson's voice begins to increase what else did shawn do to demonstrate his desire for change. Public going back to his time at Clemson. He always had a hard time going into one particular building on campus. So he had some classes in the honors college. And on that college, the name John C. Calhoun is prominent in the Front John C. Calhoun who was the seventh vice president of the United States was not only pro slavery but he was someone who said slavery was actually good for black people. So he took pro slavery to another level and the Sean and De'andre Hopkins were teammates at Clinton, and also had this same same idea that they they felt like that name did not belong on this building and de'andre lent their name to a petition to take that name off that building. And again, we talk about breaking down barriers. Clemson is a place that Desha considers his second family. You know this this Gaden country Dabo Sweeney world that has been created there to Sean is a is a valued member of it and for him to turn and say, look you guys are doing this wrong. You need to address this for every day Shawn Watson. de'andre. Hopkins. Comes after us. I think took a lot of courage and a lot of You know it broke those barriers down and in the end that name came down. It is so crazy attempt to contemplate how long. Traditions like that have lasted how did he address the change that he directly influenced at? Clemson with you? He discussed it very matter of factly, and said, you know this was something that always made me feel uncomfortable I felt that it needed to come down. There's a statue on on campus of Thomas Green Clemson who is that the colleges obviously named after he was John C. Calhoun son-in-law and he was also a slave owner. He actually inherited Calhoun slaves and that statue was kind of this iconic thing on campus where before you take a test, you rub it for good luck and you get your picture taken with it after you know when you graduate. and to Sean very pointedly said I know for I never seen a Black football player to put you in front of it. I can speak on the other athletes but I'm not black. Football player at least my we never took a pitcher there. There was never a black football player Clemson got his picture taken next to that statue in his time there, and he's never known any you know before or after, and you know it makes you realize just how different people perceive things in the fact that to Sean had this in him, he always felt uncomfortable around those things he he's not just coming to these realizations. He's basically just coming to the point where he ceasing to suppress his voice. Now that's done. He is going to speak up for when he sees injustice and even when it hits close to home which definitely Clemson, qualifies. Ten the NFL. Season starts tomorrow and the two highest paid players to ever play the game Patrick Mahomes into Shawn. Watson facing off they're both black quarterbacks in a moment where races once again at the center of so many different conversations across the country. Does, the Shawn Watson look forward to wielding the power that the quarterback position in specific has in American culture. He does Pablo and and and I think he does because he has lived it internally he has always felt this pressure to be. Better and to be different and to put forth an image of himself that will be palatable to the general public and I think that there is in him this this desire to use that person that he is this dynamic energetic person for good. and. So I think that that Sean and Patrick Mahomes is good friend. They've talked about making a lasting difference in coming together to to address these social ills in a more comprehensive way. Again twenty, four years old. He doesn't have a master plan in front of him. He just knows that the response he's been getting from what he's been doing has been positive. So maybe that cloud of capper nick is slowly dissipating and these guys are feeling that they can use their power in their voice to effect change. Tim Q. and tracing this new trajectory of the Shawn Watson with us. A thank you, Pablo, appreciate it. Coming up. The latest plays college football coaches are looking for an edge might be putting everyone at a competitive disadvantage. You ever wonder just how far an extra mile really goes well, drive a Mercedes Benz van and find out start with a network of over two hundred and fifty authorized dealerships backed by salesforce ready to help you with everything from customization to service on vans like the Mercedes. 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Here's another story I'd like you to know. Oklahoma football coach Lincoln Riley is just thirty seven years old and he's rightfully hailed as a progressive thinker and innovative play call. But yesterday when asked about the number of active Kobe cases on his team Riley, lapsed into sounding like so many of the coaches that have come before. As far as Active cases I think we're. We're we're to the point now where we're playing games and and obviously an active case contact trace is is is GONNA have game. Repercussions and. So. You know dislike for we would with an injury are gonNA. You know we're just made the decision not broadcast I, don't know we'd be. The most transparent school in the country up until then but you don't WanNa give compete or your team a competitive disadvantage or not going to do that. This hierarchy of concerns with competitive disadvantage for above transparency has been standard operating procedure in football forever now and Riley is far from alone. In this ancient approach, the rhetoric has simply been retrofitted onto this pandemic as a staggering number of college coaches are often to no longer tell the truth about the virus case load inside their programs. Just last week ESPN's Paula Levine and March Schlabach reported that almost half of the sixty five schools in the power five conferences declined to share the number of positive tests in their program to date and that twenty one of those schools are in the three conferences that planned to play football as soon as this weekend, the SEC ACC and Oklahoma's big twelve. Now. Many of these schools site federal student privacy laws to justify their opacity and confidentiality is a valuable concert. But it's also valuable to know that legal experts told ESPN that because the requested numbers don't even identify specific students, those laws an those concerns don't actually apply here. The real concern instead seems to be sheer competitive advantage as Riley. Put it. And that's not just an advantage over. His opponents on the field shielding the public from the death of these numbers also offers an advantage over those critics and scientists who are logically concerned about the sooners competing during a global pandemic at all. In fact, it seems telling that the last two times Riley, offered transparency about his team's positive tests last month. The total number of active cases jumped from nine to seventeen Riley. Himself had just disclosed that he lost all but one person at a major position group on the field. and. So now, Lincoln Riley and dozens of other coaches like it. We'll be keeping the truth about Cova to themselves from Huron out hiding the highly contagious corona virus like some normal football injury as he said yesterday. and therein lies the entire problem. Because sometimes, the solutions of old don't actually solve the problems of right now. And sometimes having something to hide. Is the entire? Problem. In the first place. I'm Pablo Tori and this has been ESPN daily. I'll talk to you tomorrow.