Watson Trade Infuriates Many Browns Fans

by Kevin Burton

   My Cleveland Browns thing was more like a joke. This stuff is serious.

   Andrea Thome, wife of longtime Cleveland baseball legend Jim Thome has cancelled her Browns season tickets, after the team traded for embattled quarterback Deshaun Watson, according to multiple media reports Monday.

   The Browns signed Watson to a five-year $230-million dollar contract. Watson sat out the entire Houston Texans season last year amid allegations from 22 female massage parlor employees of sexual harrassment or assault.

   Two Texas grand juroies have declined to indict Watson, but he is still facing civil suits.  Though he hasn’t been convicted, most observers believe the NFL will hand out some type of suspension.

   The star quarterback has maintained his innocense throughout, saying at a Browns press conference last week to announce the trade, “I know these allegations are very, very serious, but I’ve never assaulted any woman. I’ve never disrespected any woman.”

   Mrs. Thome made her announcement via twitter. 

   “Officially cancelled our Browns season tickets today and asked for a refund as they were paid in full,” Andrea Thome wrote. “Very sad after 40 years as a fan, but this is my line in the sand. I believe women. Especially when there are 22 of them. That press conference did nothing to change my mind.”

   “They may not give us a refund. But I sent the letter today. If @Browns won’t refund, I will auction off every single game and publicly donate every cent to different women’s crisis charities in N.E. Ohio, raising awareness week by week during the season.”

   The Browns aren’t legally obligated to refund Thome’s money, but if they are smart they will pay it as quickly and quietly as possible. 

   What am I saying? Cleveland Browns, smart?

   My ride on the Browns bandwagon dates all the way back to the days of Brian Sipe and the 1980 Cardiac kids.  But I jumped off because I can’t stand Baker Mayfield, the quarterback they drafted and now are discarding.  I got to see his act up close because he went to college at Oklahoma. Not the kind of character I wanted running my favorite team.

   But they took him and I bolted. Previous Browns stupidity such as not drafting wideout Julio Jones and drafting head case Johnny Manziel set the stage for my departure. Mayfield was the last straw.

   But that was related to on-field matters and my preferences. It was the stuff of sports talk-show blather. I was really displeased but there wasn’t anything in it like the stench that comes from the Watson trade.

   That’s as deep as I am able/willing to go in my blog format. Others are able to spell out in as much detail as you want, a complicated story of innocent until proven guilty and extreme coddling of star athletes.

   But the moral question raised here by no means applies only to sports teams: what would you be willing to do, to what ends would you be willing to go, to get ahead in your chosen field?

   I have read that donations are up at Cleveland area centers that deal with domestic violence. I hope that continues.

   Here’s an idea, free of charge, to whoever can take it, perhaps refine it, and run with it.

   How about someone design a shirt reading “Browns 22” on the front. Make it pink and include some other symbol, such as the scales of justice. On the back of the shirt print the names of organizations in northeast Ohio that help battered women or victims of sexual assault.  All proceeds to the causes.

   We just can’t have our sports free from the sewage of the society they spring from. To this day I know nothing about Brian Sipe that isn’t directly related to football. Nothing.  He played in a different age and I was young.  It’s just not possible to do that now. 

   When I was growing up we talked about the big four sports, baseball football, basketball and hockey.  But today the popularity of the NFL drarfs the other three. 

   Just about any storm involving the NFL will blow over. With pre-season games in August the real games in September will come a drum beat crescendo.  NFL fever will shout down just about anything.

   Will the Deshaun Watson story be any different?

   The USA Today story said Mrs. Thome’s move was “adding to the chorus on long-time Cleveland Browns fans upset over the team’s decision.”   But how loud, how much staying power in that chorus?

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