Joel Bitonio Declares It’s ‘Cleveland Against The World’ After Deshaun Watson Is Met With Obscene Heckling

The NFL has not budged from its own timelines, or at least has not pressured its appointed (jointly or otherwise) representatives to expedite the timelines, as it concerns Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson and his suspension.

Here we are, already a week into the preseason, and we still don’t know exactly for how long he is going to be suspended, although we do know that it will be for at least six weeks. But with the tardiness of the league’s appeal of joint disciplinary officer Sue Robinson’s ruling, Cleveland was able to play Watson in a game, which they historically have not allowed players to do who are facing season-long suspensions.

It is unclear why the Browns were so eager to get Watson on the field for such a brief cameo, but it went about as well as you would expect in a hostile stadium full of Jacksonville Jaguars fans who had no incentive to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The former Pro Bowl quarterback was met with chants from the crowd consisting of various obscenities, the most direct that was captured being a rather audible chorus of “you sick fuck”. Watson is accused of sexual misconduct against dozens of massage therapists, and in the joint disciplinary officer’s eyes, he was found guilty in the four cases she was presented.

Of course, Watson’s teammates have almost a professional obligation to at least publicly back him, whether or not they privately harbor other thoughts. Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio, for example, had a typical response when addressing the explicit heckling his quarterback received.

Although not quite in the way you might think. Because his comments don’t explicitly defend Watson from any personal point of view, but rather simply acknowledge that the Browns as a team face more backlash because of him, and while he is in the game.

You know, I think once Deshaun came out of the game we got booed less, but you go to a road game they boo you anyway, so you know what I mean?”, he said on Sunday, via Chris Easterling of the Akron Beacon Journal. “So we’ll see how it goes. I’m sure, it seems like more than ever, Cleveland against the world, so we’ll be ready for it”.

I’m not so sure it’s ever, or at least often, but “Cleveland against the world”, but rather more so an indifference to a city of sports teams that have mostly been profoundly unsuccessful for most of their existence, especially recently, barring the LeBron James era(s) with the Cavaliers in the NBA.

No doubt, Watson’s presence on that roster will indeed make Bitonio’s words true, however. More than ever, those who have previously been indifferent to the Browns will be motivated to jeer the team housing perhaps the most disliked person in professional sports right now.

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