HBO did indeed request an interview with Browns quarterback Deshaun Watsonregarding the item that will debut Tuesday night on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, tells Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that Watson declined the offer.
Hardin cited the pending NFL investigation.
Of course, the pending NFL investigation did not stop Watson from participating in a press conference after he was traded to the Browns. If Watson and Hardin believed the HBO item would paint his version of events in a favorable light, perhaps Watson would have agreed to do it.
If anything, the 22 pending civil lawsuits should be an even greater reason to pass. Anything Watson says, in any setting, can be used against him in court.
Meanwhile, everything he says in ongoing sworn depositions in the 22 pending cases can be used against him by the NFL. So why, at a time when Watson continues to give periodic testimony about these claims in response to aggressive questioning from attorney Tony Buzbee, would Watson not sit down with HBO?
It’s not a criticism of Watson. It’s a reaction to and analysis of the stated reason, from his lawyer, to not submit to san interview with HBO.
My assessment is that Watson and his team made an assessment as to whether the HBO interview would or would not be favorable to his situation. They decided it would not be. And that’s their prerogative.
It’s possibly a good decision. As explained earlier, Buzbee said that two of his clients spoke to HBO. However, HBO said that “several” spoke on the record regarding Watson. “Several” implies more than two. The use of “several” when the truth is two justifies concerns about a possible bias.
Watson’s decision not to be interviewed does not mean Watson’s camp is not trying to lobby HBO to be more favorable, or as the case may be less unfavorable. Hardin told Cabot that a member of the Watson legal team spent roughly eight minutes talking to HBO on Monday morning, and that Hardin’s firm “sent mountains of material to review” to HBO.
The overriding problem when it comes to the inherently adversarial nature of litigation is that the two sides become so committed to their version of events that they actually get upset when someone does not accept the explanation without question. That’s the reality here. Everyone wants “fairness,” but the two sides have dramatically different views as to what is and isn’t fair. From Watson’s perspective, fairness means persistently challenging the credibility of Watson’s accusers – all 22 of them.
But the raw number remains staggering. Twenty-two. If there were one or two, picking nits and quibbling over details would be far more relevant. At some point between two and 22, a microanalysis of each claim becomes tougher to accomplish. At some point, 22 is 22.
Watson insists he did nothing wrong, and he’s entitled to do that. But, again, the number of accusers is 22. It becomes very difficult to get the average person of reasonable intelligence to react to 22 claims by assuming that it’s all a mistake or a lie or a grand conspiracy.