The Texans did not immediately comply with Watson’s trade request several months ago, and then in March and April came the deluge of lawsuits: 23 in all (22 are active). According to ESPN, at least 10 criminal complaints have been filed with the Houston Police Department. The lawsuits and complaints accused Watson of a pattern of lewd behavior with women hired to provide personal services, such as massages.
As the cases mounted, he didn’t attend the Texans’ off-season program. Watson’s only apparent incentive for reporting to the team Wednesday was so that he didn’t get fined $50,000 for missing days. Once the Texans’ franchise quarterback, he didn’t take first- or second- or third-team reps.
Watson was not made available to the news media Wednesday.
“It really hasn’t been a distraction,” said Nick Caserio, the team’s general manager, “and I don’t think it will be a distraction.”
“It was no surprise,” Culley said of Watson’s decision to report, “so just business as usual.”
That’s what everyone in football allowed Wednesday to be, a normal day. The N.F.L. hasn’t placed Watson on the commissioner’s exempt list, a paid suspension for players being investigated by the league for conduct violations. So he joined the quarterbacks in the front row of the stretching period, and he ran through ball security drills, and he bent on one knee, helmet on the ground, his hoodie pulled tight, with no one around him. The N.F.L. has not yet interviewed many relevant parties in the civil cases, and as the league continues to investigate Watson, it has permitted him to participate unrestricted in all club activities.
“Every team is dealing with different things, obviously, around the league,” Caserio said, “so we’re no different.”
Not at all, which explains why some players were so happy to discuss Watson’s situation.
“I’m not answering those questions,” receiver Brandin Cooks said.