Deshaun Watson doesn’t deserve a chance on the Saints, Colin Kaepernick does

Kristen Wong
Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /
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The New Orleans Saints turned a blind eye to Deshaun Watson’s controversy and still pursued him in 2022. Why can’t they do the same for Colin Kaepernick?

At face value, Deshaun Watson and Colin Kaepernick represent two polemical sides of the same coin: on one side, the former 49ers quarterback who was blackballed by the NFL for protesting against racial injustice. On the other, the Texans quarterback who was sued by 22 women accusing him of sexual assault.

If a quarterback-needy team like the Saints were to theoretically pick their next signal-caller by flipping said coin, Watson would always end up on top. That doesn’t mean Watson deserves to be there — rather, the coin happens to be weighted on Kaepernick’s side such that Kaepernick will always lose to Watson just as he has lost to other quarterbacks in years prior.

In the real world, Kaepernick’s football career is long over while Watson could enjoy many more fruitful years in the league.

In the morally ambiguous (and purely hypothetical) world of “Who deserves what,” however, these controversial quarterbacks swap futures. Kaepernick is the one who arguably deserves a starting quarterback spot while Watson is the one who should be banned. On the pure basis of character, yes, Kaepernick appears worthy of a second chance.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll shared this sentiment on Wednesday, though he added he wasn’t sure “where” Kaepernick deserved the second shot. Though that place won’t be the Saints in 2022, Carroll lifts his muzzle just long enough to say that Colin Kaepernick is deserving. Which in itself holds the unspoken truth that Colin Kaepernick has been wronged.

This isn’t meant to be an article pointing out the injustices of the NFL, nor is it exactly a pro-Kaepernick or anti-Watson piece. It merely strives to present the facts and a conclusion from those facts along the lines of: Kaepernick deserves another chance in the league more than Watson does.

When comparing each player’s darkened pasts side by side, Kaepernick seems to get the short end of the stick while Watson gets off the hook.

Five years ago, the NFL colluded against Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the national anthem and sparking a league-wide protest. All of Kaepernick’s attempts to continue playing professional football failed, his six-year career came to an abrupt halt, and he remains more or less blackballed from the league.

One year ago, a woman filed the first lawsuit against Deshaun Watson, leading to an outpouring of more lawsuits that left Watson and the Texans knee-deep in extensive legal troubles. Watson has since been cleared of all criminal charges suggesting his re-entry into the NFL is imminent, and he remains a highly coveted target on the virtue of his age and quarterback play alone.

New Orleans Saints wade into muddy waters in their pursuit of Deshaun Watson

How is it possible for two controversial quarterbacks to go down such divergent paths?

For one, Watson has proved to be the far superior quarterback, pound for pound. Watson’s four year career includes three Pro Bowl seasons, two 4000-plus yard passing years, and an average pass completion rate of 67.8 percent. Even in Kaepernick’s prime (roughly a decade ago), the 49ers quarterback couldn’t come close to Watson’s numbers, though Kaepernick did lead his team to a Super Bowl appearance where he threw for 302 yards against the Baltimore Ravens.

Following Kaepernick’s choice to opt out of his contract with San Francisco in 2017, there were a few instances a team may have been motivated to offer him a bargain-basement contract, if only to see whether he’d take the job.

Now, at 34-years-old, Kaepernick’s health tacks on a huge concern to any interested team no matter how many workout videos he posts. No team will touch Kaepernick at this point, not after he has gone half a decade without playing football. Younger, better options are available.

But to return to the question at hand: each quarterback’s controversial misdeeds does not amount to equal consequences; one transgression outweighs the other on the imaginary scale. Kaepernick’s offense weighs heavier than Watson’s because of statements the NFL has passively condoned like:

“Protesting racial injustice is a crime worse than sexual assault.”

If that statement wasn’t a commonly held opinion by the league, Kaepernick wouldn’t have been blackballed five years ago, and Watson wouldn’t be allowed to play football.

Yet Kaepernick was, and Watson is — and thus, the weighted coin.

As Watson prepares to pick his next destination and as Kaepernick continues to live in NFL exile, consider the Jean Valjean redemption arc and ask yourself if a man who was wrongfully condemned deserves a second chance.

Next. 3 Saints players that would benefit from Deshaun Watson coming to NOLA. dark

The answer is as black-and-white as the outcome of a coin toss.

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