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Agent from firm representing Deshaun Watson makes a strange comparison

Mike Florio and Charean Williams look at how those around Deshaun Watson handled his legal situation from the beginning and discuss the advice and support the young QB was given.

Ideally, the evaluation and treatment of Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will result in an eventual acknowledgment that, despite his claims of innocence, he engaged in misconduct. It becomes more difficult for that to happen, as a practical matter, if he continues to be surrounded by enablers and excuse-makers.

On Thursday, agent David Mulugheta tweeted (and then deleted) an attack on Judge Sue L. Robinson, even though the NFL Players Association tried to persuade the NFL to respect her ruling -- and didn’t appeal it.

Also on Thursday, another agent at the same firm, Andre Odom, made a strange comparison of Watson’s situation to another high-profile case of sexual impropriety.

“I see all of the responses and anger regarding the Deshaun Watson ruling,” Odom tweeted. “Fair. I’m curious as to why there was so much silence on the child trafficking case involving [Jeffrey] Epstein, [Ghislaine] Maxwell and others? Where was that anger and outrage? Children matter, too! Where’s the uproar???”

We contacted Odom via text message, providing him an opportunity to elaborate. He did not respond.

Obviously, there wasn’t “silence” in the Epstein case. It was a huge deal. It received significant coverage. Epstein committed suicide in prison. Maxwell was convicted.

Regardless, this isn’t a situation that calls for whataboutism. Watson, according to Judge Robinson, committed four instances of non-violent sexual assault. His decision to accept an 11-game suspension and to pay a $5 million fine, coupled with his ongoing insistence that he did nothing wrong, invites extra scrutiny.

Watson’s best interests, in my opinion, aren’t served by the aggressively stubborn efforts by those who represent him to shout his innocence -- and to (at times) challenge members of the media to, for example, focus on the alleged lies and inconsistencies of Watson’s accusers. Watson’s agents and lawyers have had a full and fair chance to do that, both in the court of public opinion and in connection with the 24 civil actions filed against him. Attorney Rusty Hardin has declared that all of the women are lying, while also proclaiming that there’s no crime in trying to finagle a “happy ending” to a massage.

At some point, Watson’s agents need to stop circling the wagons and to start speaking hard truths to Watson. He was never found innocent, by anyone. The prosecutor didn’t want to have to try to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, deferring to the civil justice system and the NFL’s internal procedures. Watson has settled 24 of the cases against him, and he agreed to an unprecedented combination of suspension and fine.

He’ll never get to where he needs to be if he doesn’t admit where he’s been. Everyone deserves a shot at redemption. But they have to want it. Watson, by all appearances, continues to think he doesn’t need it.

Maybe he’ll eventually get there. It becomes much more difficult if those who supposedly represent his best interests continue to fight long after the battle has been lost.