DeShaun Watson is one of the most talented young quarterbacks in the NFL. He plays for the Houston Texans who, since he’s been their quarterback, have had a fair amount of success… until recently.
In 2018, Watson and the Texans finished 11-5. They lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Indianapolis Colts. In 2019, the Texans once again made the playoffs, winning their first-round match-up against Buffalo. They lost that very next week to the Kansas City Chiefs, who eventually won the Super Bowl.
In 2020, the Texans backtracked significantly, going 4-12, a far cry from their previous two years under the emerging Watson. A team that looked like they would become regular competitors in the AFC, their drop-off was not surprising considering some of their transactions: they traded away one of the best wide receivers in the game, DeAndre Hopkins, for a banged-up David Johnson as well as their number one pick, JaDaveon Clowney, once again getting little in return, to mention only a few.
The man behind these questionable decisions is named Bill O’Brien. O’Brien was the head coach and GM of the Houston Texans until he was relieved of his duties this earlier this year. Within a single season, the Texans became a franchise in disarray, which led DeShaun Watson, the face of their franchise, to demand a trade. While he had only recently signed a lengthy and lucrative contract, he had become fed up with the way things were being run and wanted out.
One could hardly blame him.
I take that back. Two people can hardly blame him.
Those two people are Brett Favre and Dick Vermeil. Enter journalists looking for a soundbite and two men who fell for it hook, line and sinker.
When asked by Yahoo Sports what he thought of Watson’s trade demands, Favre jabbed “You get paid a ton of money to do a certain job… just do it, and let the chips fall where they may. I think we make too much money to voice an opinion.”
It’s not quite shut and dribble but it’s in the same ballpark.
The irony here is that as a former Green Bay Packer (and Minnesota Viking and New York Jet), Favre pretty much did whatever he wanted wherever he wanted. He was far from soft-spoken throughout his career in Green Bay and when it became clear that Aaron Rodgers was ready to take his place, Favre essentially strong-armed three more years out of out his playing career. No one ever questioned Favre’s work ethic. The guy set the NFL record for most consecutive games played but he quite often did so while expressing his displeasure with the powers that be.
Watson’s agent was quick to reply.
Favre wasn’t the only one questioning Watson’s stance. Former Super Bowl winning head coach Dick Vermeil also sounded off… and unfortunately sounded like a dinosaur while doing so. Vermeil, who for some reason decided to talk to TMZ, his first bad decision that day, said of Watson “I think they change his diapers.”
That was Vermeil’s second bad decision. “Nowhere in his contract,” he continued “does it say that he’s involved in making the decisions of who coaches or who leads the organization… I think he just shuts his mouth and becomes a better football player and lead the football team and let the leaders of the organization lead him.”
Oh lord, when will it ever end? I suppose if it did, we’d have nothing to write about.
I’m not sure what senility medication are missing from Favre’s and Vermeil’s pillbox but star athletes have been used their leverage since Babe Ruth starting making more money than the President. This is not a new occurrence. For all those who forget the leverage star players have had over the years, flash back to 1981 when Magic Johnson became the bad guy by demanding a trade, leading to the firing of Paul Westhead and the hiring of Pat Riley. The rest is showtime history.
There is no reason organizations shouldn’t consult their best players when making important decisions about their future, especially considering those athletes are their largest vested interest. Do you not think Jeanie Buss phones LeBron James when acquiring a certain player? Do you not think the Hunt family consults Patrick Mahomes on certain matters? Do you think they’d move a player knowing a guy like Mahomes, or enter any star player on any pro team, would potentially get upset?
I’m not suggesting coddling players but you’re paying these guys hundreds of millions of dollars to represent you. You entrust your entire image and future on their shoulders? Do owners of other major corporations not at a minimum consult the ones they trust when it comes to major financial decisions?
I have no idea what happened in Houston, clearly neither do Favre and Vermeil, but it’s evident the franchise has made questionable decisions. After a 4-12 season in which he led the league in passing yardage, I’m going to give Watson a pass for questioning the direction of the franchise.
Watson became the second highest paid quarterback in the NFL at the beginning of this season, signing a four-year, $156 million contract, which is probably why Favre and Vermeil are resentful. That’s more than they both earned over their entire careers.
Trading away Watson, and his contract, would not be impossible but it would take some creative effort if the two parties can’t come to terms. But that’s between them and not Favre and Vermeil.
I’m not sure we’ll ever see the day that old white guys stop sounding off about the money new age athletes make and more importantly, shit they know nothing about. I’m not going to go so far as to call Favre and Vermeil racists. That’d be way too cliché. Besides, the idealist in me finds it hard to believe that anyone who has spent most of their lives in and out of NFL locker rooms could feel that way. Suffice to say it’s not a good look.
I look forward to the day people simply say they don’t know enough about the issue to make an educated comment. But then again, I guess that wouldn’t make headlines.