Divided Cleveland reckons with Deshaun Watson reality

0 Comments

Now that the Watson reality has set in—he’ll be suspended for the first 11 games of the season, and fined $5 million, and made to undergo counseling to address what Roger Goodell called “predatory” behavior—closure allows the Browns to plan for the season and Watson to plan for an uncertain future that will include five weeks when he can have no contact with his team.

This, as one person in the middle of this maelstrom told me Sunday, “is a complicated, complicated, complicated story.”

There is closure, but there is not satisfaction. Watson issued a statement when the settlement was announced saying, “I take accountability for the decisions I made.” Shortly thereafter, before the press, he said, “I’ve always stood on my innocence … I never assaulted anyone or disrespected anyone.”

How does one person say—sort of—I’m sorry, and two hours later say, I’m not sorry for anything? It’s disingenuous absurdity. A few things I learned reporting on the Browns:

Watson has begun the league-mandate counseling, a source told me. My sense is the Browns hope that at some point Watson will understand what he either doesn’t understand or a denial he has been continually fed by his enablers—that he did nothing wrong. Very likely, the Browns believe counseling can help Watson get to the bottom of why he sought treatment from 66 massage therapists in 18 months, per the New York Times. That he has begun the counseling is a step in the right direction.

I would expect the Browns will look hard at adding a quarterback to supplement Jacoby BrissettBut tamp down the expectations that Jimmy Garoppolo is on the way. Not saying it’s impossible, but I don’t sense the Browns think the conditions are right for it. Too much money (unless the Niners pick up a ton of the obligation), lack of certainty on Garoppolo’s health with him coming back from shoulder surgery, and the difficulty of learning a new playbook overnight. Those are real issues. I doubt Cam Newton is in play either. But I do think the Browns will search for a challenger to backup Joshua Dobbs around the final cutdown next week.

I think the Browns gave Watson the $230-million guaranteed contract because they figured it was the only way they had a chance to get him. The Haslams have been pilloried for the contract, and rightfully so; Watson, even after his fine, will earn from the Browns $40 million in 2022. This is just my gut feeling, not something I was able to verify. But my gut tells me they felt they had only one chance after Watson told the team he was likely headed elsewhere after interviewing with four teams. Watson had Atlanta (near his home of Gainesville, Ga.), Carolina (near Clemson, his college) and New Orleans ahead of Cleveland on his wish list. How could the Browns differentiate themselves? A fully guaranteed contract. If you’re Jimmy Haslam, who had been through a slew of failed quarterbacks in his 9.5 years as owner, you might think: Taking an avalanche of criticism for a year will be worth it if I have my long-term QB on opening day 2023.

The league doesn’t like the 11-game suspension, but they wouldn’t have liked the continuing soap opera of this story if Watson had been banned for a season. I bet 90 percent of football fans, asked what they think of Watson being banned for 11 weeks with a $5-million fine, would have some significant problem with it. Either it’s too severe, not severe enough, or the league is soft, whatever. All of those positions can be argued. But the league just wanted this to end. Could they, would they have triumphed if the appeals office, Peter Harvey, had banned Watson for the season and the NFLPA fought it in court? Probably. At what cost? Two more months of Watson headlines? No thanks, they thought.

The plan for Watson during his suspension has some question marks. Mileposts along the way: Watson has to have no contact with the team from Aug. 30, when the suspension begins, until Oct. 9. He can return to the Browns facility on Oct. 10 and can be in meetings but can’t practice with the team for the next five weeks. On Nov. 14, 20 days before he is eligible to play, he can begin practicing with the team. I asked coach Kevin Stefanski Sunday about Watson’s work—presumably with private QB coach Quincy Avery—in the 41 days he’s away from the team with no supervision. “We can’t really direct that program,” Stefanski said. “Can’t check in day to day. Can’t watch him throw. He has a really good quarterback coach, Quincy Avery, so I know that they’ll have a plan of attack. It will be important for him to make sure that every day will count for him when it comes to the psychological part of this.”

I got the feeling that Watson will almost certainly start Dec. 4 in Houston, when he’s eligible to play, almost two years since he last played in a game. How ready will he be?

Stefanski: “It’s a totally fair question. There’s not a lot of examples of guys doing this. But Deshaun’s played a lot of football in his life. He’s played in a lot of big games, national championship games, playoff games. I think that he’s a player… that… say this the right way… in his young career, he’s had so many big moments that I think he’ll be ready to go. I’m not naive enough to say there won’t be some rust or whatever it may be because that’s a long time.”

Jacoby Brissett, the temporary QB, seems almost blissfully unaware of the turbulence in the outside world about this, and that’s probably a good thing.

Odd career … Backup to Brady, backup to Luck, successor to Luck, co-starter in Miami, now the 11-game man (probably) in Cleveland. “His career has uniquely prepared him for this,” Stefanski said. Talked to Brissett Sunday. “I never worry about all that stuff on the outside, really,” he said. “I tell myself to stay ready and actually believe it. I knew what I was getting myself into when I signed up for this job. We set a plan when we first started this thing, and we’ve been going along with our plan. That’s why I think you see none of us really stressing with whatever’s going on on the outside.”

The other day, on NFL Network’s morning show “Good Morning Football,” panelist Kyle Brandt called Watson’s denials in a Thursday press conference “the actions of a liar.” He said, as if speaking to Jimmy Haslam: “You’re an enabler.” That’s on the NFL’s channel. It’s not just the outside world attacking the Browns and the Haslams—it’s league-friendly people too.

I formed this opinion over the weekend talking to people on this story … Jimmy Haslam is a big entrepreneur. He’s taken quite a few slings and arrows in his business life, some of them seriously litigious. Deep down, I would not be surprised if, thinking whether he wanted to go after Watson, this went through his mind: I’ve watched team after team build and build and build, and they’ve failed because of one thing—they didn’t have a quarterback. Fabulously successful businessmen—Steven Ross, David Tepper, Woody Johnson—have tried for years to find that guy. Even if we took a torrent of rip jobs, wouldn’t it be worth it if we could get Deshaun Watson? Character witnesses vouched for him. A guy like Haslam is used to looking at the bottom line. If there are rocky patches— even legal and moral ones —on the way to great success, isn’t it all worth it?

That’s the cynical, pragmatic way to look at it. But if Watson doesn’t come through counseling on this tremendous flaw a changed person, and if he doesn’t play great in years two through five of the deal, the decision to trade three first-round picks and to sign him to a ridiculous contract will be viewed in history as a desperate move without a moral compass. I know why the Haslams did it, but they’d better be right.

And that is all up to Deshaun Watson now.

Read more in Peter King’s full Football Morning in America column

How to watch Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: TV, live stream info, preview for Sunday Night Football game

0 Comments

It’s the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday, October 2 in a rematch of Super Bowl LV where Tom Brady earned his seventh ring. Sunday’s matchup marks the sixth meeting between Patrick Mahomes and Brady with the 45-year-old veteran holding a 3-2 edge in the series.

RELATED: Tom Brady’s Super Bowl wins, rings, MVPs, losses: Every appearance, NFL stats, records

Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock with Football Night in America. See below for additional information on how to watch the game.

RELATED: If Chiefs-Buccaneers is moved, it will be played at U.S. Bank Stadium

Football Night in America will feature a weekly segment hosted by former NFL quarterback Chris Simms and sports betting and fantasy pioneer Matthew Berry, which highlights storylines and betting odds for the upcoming Sunday Night Football game on NBC, Peacock, and Universo. Real-time betting odds on the scoring ticker during FNIA also will be showcased. Peacock Sunday Night Football Final, an NFL postgame show produced by NBC Sports, will also go deep on the storylines and BetMGM betting lines that proved prominent during the matchup.

RELATED: FMIA Week 3 – Broncos’ Coaching Experiment Pays Off, Dolphins Win ‘Beast’ Game, and What We Learned About the NFL in September

Be sure to start your NFL Sunday with Matthew Berry’s Fantasy Football Pregame show beginning at 11 AM ET on Peacock and the NFL on NBC YouTube channel.

Kansas City Chiefs

Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) picked up their first loss of the season last Sunday after falling 20-17 to the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Kansas City struggled offensively in Week 3 as the team was held to just three points in the second half. The Chiefs are still working to fill the void in the passing game since trading star WR Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins in the offseason but according to Mahomes, that doesn’t excuse Sunday’s loss.

RELATED: Patrick Mahomes –  I don’t expect growing pains, offense has to gel together

“I don’t expect any growing pains,” Mahomes told reporters at ESPN.com. “Obviously have new players and you don’t know everybody’s going to respond to tough situations. . . . We’ve got to gel all together. It starts with me. There were certain throws I was putting on guys’ back hips instead of in front of him. There were certain situations where we were just barely off of it.”

Mahomes, who signed a 10-year, $450 million contract extension, in July 2020–the richest contract in American sports history by total value–is in his fifth season as the Chiefs’ starting quarterback and hopes to lead Kansas City to its seventh straight AFC West title. The Chiefs are the only team to ever win six consecutive AFC West titles, which is tied for the 3rd-longest division title streak of any team in NFL history.

RELATED: Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes: All-time QB matchups, records, stats

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Brady and the Buccaneers (2-1) are also coming off their first loss of the season–a 14-12 defeat at home from Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers last Sunday afternoon. With WRs Mike Evans (suspension) and Chris Godwin (hamstring)–Brady’s top two targets–and Julio Jones (knee) out in Week 3, Tampa Bay’s offense racked up a total of just 285 yards in the loss. Additionally, the team is still adapting to the turnover at the WR and TE positions from this offseason. Despite some challenges on offense, Tampa Bay’s defense has remained consistent and currently leads the NFL in scoring defense (9.0 pts/gm) and also ranks in the top 5 in total defense.

RELATED: NFL QBs with most Super Bowl wins – Where does Tom Brady rank ahead of Super Bowl 2023


How to watch the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

  • Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida
  • When: Sunday, October 2
  • Start Time: 8:20 p.m. ET; live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET with Football Night In America
  • TV Channel: NBC
  • Stream liveWatch live on Peacock or with the NBC Sports App

What time is kickoff for the Kansas City Chiefs vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers game?

Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET.

RELATED: 2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule: TV channel, live stream info, NFL schedule

For all your NFL jersey and gear needs ahead of the 2022 season, click here!


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

How to watch the NFL on Peacock: Full Sunday Night Football Schedule, live stream info for the 2022 season

2 Comments

The 2022 NFL Season is in full gear. This week it’s Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a rematch of Super Bowl LV. Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. with Football Night in America. Kickoff time is at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock.

RELATED: If Chiefs-Buccaneers is moved, it will be played at U.S. Bank Stadium

Every Sunday Night Football game this season will be available on both NBC and Peacock. See below for the full 2022 Sunday Night Football schedule as well as additional information on how to watch every game on Peacock.

RELATED: How to watch Matthew Berry on NBC Sports

2022 Sunday Night Football Schedule:

*Live coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Thursday, Sept. 8 (Week 1) – Josh Allen’s four touchdowns power Bills to 31-10 victory over Rams

Sunday, Sept. 11 (Week 1) – Bucs take care of business against Cowboys, who lose Dak Prescott late

Sunday, Sept. 18 (Week 2) – Packers roll over Bears 27-10 as Aaron Jones, Preston Smith star

Sunday, Sept. 25 (Week 3) – Broncos do just enough to pull off 11-10 win over 49ers

Sunday, Oct. 2 (Week 4) – Chiefs at Buccaneers

Sunday, Oct. 9 (Week 5) – Bengals at Ravens

Sunday, Oct. 16 (Week 6) – Cowboys at Eagles

Sunday, Oct. 23 (Week 7) – Steelers at Dolphins

Sunday, Oct. 30 (Week 8) – Packers at Bills

Sunday, Nov. 6 (Week 9) – Titans at Chiefs

Sunday, Nov. 13 (Week 10) – Chargers at 49ers

Sunday, Nov. 20 (Week 11) – Bengals at Steelers

Thursday, Nov. 24 (Week 12) – Patriots at Vikings

Sunday, Nov. 27 (Week 12) – Packers at Eagles

Sunday, Dec. 4 (Week 13) – Colts at Cowboys

Sunday, Dec. 11 (Week 14) – Chiefs at Broncos

Sunday, Dec. 18 (Week 15) – Patriots at Raiders

Sunday, Dec. 25 (Week 16) – Buccaneers at Cardinals

Sunday, Jan. 1 (Week 17) – Rams at Chargers

Sunday, Jan. 8 (Week 18) – Matchup TBD

RELATED: 2022 NFL Regular Season Schedule – How to Watch, Live Stream, Dates, Times, Matchups


How to watch Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

What devices are compatible with Peacock?

Peacock is available on a variety of devices. See the full list here.

In addition to Sunday Night Football, what else can I watch with Peacock Premium?

Premium is your key to unlocking everything Peacock has to offer. You’ll get access to all the live sports and events we have, including Premier League and WWE Premium Live Events like WrestleMania. You’ll also get full seasons of exclusive Peacock Original series, next-day airings of current NBC and Telemundo hits, plus every movie and show available on Peacock. There is always something new to discover on Peacock Premium.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2022 NFL Season, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!