When are the Pittsburgh Steelers going to see Deshaun Watson on the field for the Cleveland Browns? We don’t know the answer to that question—nobody does right now, apparently. But we do know when the Steelers are going to see the Browns on the field. That will be in week three, and in prime time.
What we don’t know, again, is whether or not Watson, the quarterback Cleveland traded three first-round picks and then some to get, and whom they lured in with a fully-guaranteed five-year contract, will be on the field for the Browns at that point.
You already know why that is. The NFL knows why that is. The NFL personnel responsible for making the NFL schedule know why that is. But seemingly implicitly because they didn’t know when Watson will be available, NFL vice president of broadcast scheduling Mike North admitted to Adam Schein on SiriusXM that they did not take a potential suspension into consideration when formulating the Browns’ schedule.
“The honest answer to you question is no”, he said when asked that question, with Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk transcribing. “None of you know. None of us knows if he’s gonna be all year, if he’s not gonna be here at all. None of us knows what is going to happen at all, and it might not happen this year”.
Watson was cleared of all criminal lawsuits filed against him alleging sexual assault and misconduct during a series of apparently dozens of massages over the course of his employment with the Houston Texas, but he continues to face 22 civil lawsuits over the same offenses and more.
Everybody has seemingly taken it as a given that the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell would suspend him over the allegations, even though he is facing no criminal charges, a precedent long set more than a decade ago. What nobody has taken for granted is how long that suspension might be, or even when it might be.
“I don’t know enough about the legal system, but we could be a year or two away from all of these things finally settling,” North acknowledged. “As you look at the Cleveland schedule, you see that they have a national television game in Week Three, a national television game in Week Eight, an opportunity to be back on national television on NFL Network in the Saturday pool in Week 15. So there’s a game in the first third, a game in the middle, a game in the last third. I have no idea what’s gonna happen. I don’t know anything more than you do at this point. So the honest answer to your question is we really didn’t think about it”.
Yet within his comments seems to be the implication that if they did know about a suspension and when it would take place, then it would have factored into their scheduling. A week-three primetime game against the Steelers with Watson sitting out due to a suspension doesn’t sound like something that the league would want if they had foreknowledge, I would think.