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Culture / Sporting Life

New England Writer Outraged and Offended By Deshaun Watson’s Touchdown Dance

Scolding Drives Home NFL’s Ugly Conservatism

BY // 08.24.17

Deshaun Watson is already suffering from the NFL’s ultra conservative thinking. The decision to prematurely name Tom Savage the Houston Texans starting quarterback over the rookie Watson screams of the type of safe, reduce risk mindset that dominates the league. In this case, it might not end up mattering all that much. Texans coach Bill O’Brien changes quarterbacks with more ease than some people change shoes.

Both O’Brien and Savage’s history say this will not last till the first freeze in New England. There are Tinder dates more permanent than the Texans’ current quarterback situation.

So no, this is no crushing blow for Watson, who’d never complain about it anyway. It’s still a tiny setback though for the Texans Savior in Wait — thanks to NFL conservatism (and for once that term has nothing to do with politics). What’s not so tiny is the fact Watson is already getting criticized for dancing.

Yes, a  21-year-old is being ripped for daring to have some fun on the field. What’s more NFL than that? Somewhere, the preacher in Footloose is smiling.

Greg Bedard — the owner, editor and columnist at the new Boston Sports Journal, which he admirably created — laid into Watson for having the gall to boogie.

Settle down rook? Yes, we’ve officially traveled back to 1975. Really, we’re criticizing a young man who exhibited nothing but class during a historic run at Clemson for getting a little excited while playing a game? Remember when sports used to be fun? What’s next, a scolding because someone’s hair is too long? There is a school district in Texas that would love to have Bedard as its superintendent.

In all seriousness, Bedard is a former Sports Illustrated writer whose work speaks for itself. And anyone can have a regrettable tweet where they sound like a grandpa from the 1950s.

What Bedard’s misplaced Twitter rant signifies is bigger though. There are always going to be guys out there eager to criticize Deshaun Watson just for being Deshaun Watson. Everything Watson does will be magnified — even a simple dance.

Watson’s dance is called the Milly Rock — and he lifted it from (or paid homage to) Texans veteran running back Lamar Miller in doing it. (Yes, when you’re Watson’s age, the 26-year-old Miller qualifies as a vet.) The dance was not offensive in the least. Watson didn’t even come close to going Gerald McCoy on Hard Knocks.

He just did some moves.

“My teammates enjoyed it. They thought it was pretty swaggy and pretty fun to do,” Watson says. “Just having fun on the sideline. That’s what football is about.”

There are Tinder dates more permanent than the Texans’ current quarterback situation.

As Watson talks, after his second game ever in a professional football uniform, he looks as nonplussed as could be. This causes a local Houston TV reporter to note/gush, “He’s so cool.

Watson is that. The Man Who Busted the Myth of Invincible Alabama brings plenty of swagger to a franchise that’s often lacked that trait. Nothing is too big for Watson. Nothing seems to faze him.

Not even an unfortunate brush with NFL conservatism at its worst. Let his coach go with the safe choice rather than one with a ceiling higher than a pyramid. Let a New England writer scold him disapprovingly on Twitter for dancing.

Watson will keep coming, as cool, composed and ready as can be. His intelligence and sense of perspective jump out too.

“I liked it,” rookie running back D’Onta Foreman says of Watson’s touchdown celebration dance, one that’s even officially allowed by the No Fun League rules makers  these days. “It was cool. I want to see what he does next time.”

Everyone who understands that sports are supposed to be a ball is looking forward to what’s next too. Everyone from the Carolina fans who felt compelled to high-five the opposing quarterback in that first preseason game to his own teammates embrace Watson’s truth. These are games.

Deshaun Watson seems to never lose sense of that — even as he changes them.

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