On Sunday, NFL insider Adam Schefter of ESPN published quite a controversial story ahead of Deshaun Watson’s debut start for the Cleveland Browns following his 11-game suspension due to sexual misconduct and assault allegations.
Published early Sunday morning ahead of Watson’s first start of the season, the story from Adam Schefter story cited “one source connected to Watson’s treatment program” anonymously saying that Deshaun Watson showed “signs of progress” during his mandatory treatment program.
Deshaun Watson has made what NFL and NFLPA experts have described as "signs of progress" during his mandatory treatment program, per sources.https://t.co/7az28z8HrE
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 4, 2022
“He’s been progressing well and he wants to continue with it, and they feel it’s helping him,” the unnamed source told Schefter. “It’s just sort of ongoing as needed and it’ll be ongoing until it’s not needed anymore. And I think it’s given him a lot of help and support. But this could take a while.”
Regardless of his intent, the story came across as irresponsible journalism from Schefter to many in the NFL world, with some accusing Schefter of shilling and carrying water for Watson and the league ahead of his return to the field on Sunday afternoon.
running a vaguely sourced, almost detail-free but somehow positive piece on the day watson returns to football is carrying some heavy water for the nfl https://t.co/EihRKfjjDd
— Andy Downing (@andydowning33) December 4, 2022
This is embarrassing journalism.
Why allow anonymous sources on this? What are NFL and NFLPA experts?
What do they mean by progress???
Spinning the return of a player who faces dozens of allegations of sexual assault as a positive story for the NFL is quite a feat. https://t.co/B4gIyiuLrf
— Julie O'Donoghue (@JSODonoghue) December 4, 2022
Adam Schefter Image Laundering Services, Done for Free, Must Let Him Lick Boot https://t.co/ZWqfi9BHuF
— The Original Party Worm (@OG_party_worm) December 4, 2022
I will believe Deshaun Watson has made progress when he admits what he did. So far he is standing by his story that every single one of the dozens of women who accused him of sexual assault are all lying. https://t.co/pHleFzvAG0
— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) December 4, 2022
Thinking about this for more than ten seconds might give you a migraine https://t.co/g5cgz2Sd7k
— Brian Coulter (@PhilaBCoulter) December 4, 2022
Adam Schefter would knock his own kid down a flight of steps if the NFL asked him to https://t.co/nDM4hMVquh
— ⱼₐₛ (@j_a155) December 4, 2022
It’s certainly not a good look for one of the most notorious league insiders in the entire NFL media world, and it’s safe to say that he took plenty of heat for it.