This column will look a little different from my normal ramblings on entertainment, but I believe it's necessary.
As most of you know, I am a sports fanatic. It's why I'm here in Alexandria as a sports writer. Sports and entertainment share so many of the same great qualities and some ugly ones too.
This week, a 14th woman came out with allegations of sexual assault against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. NFL fans know that he is one of the top five quarterbacks in the league and is a generational talent. But some things are bigger than sports.
Because Watson is an NFL star and there's little to no physical evidence of sexual assault, it's his word against theirs. If history is any indication of what's going to happen, Watson could face no lasting repercussions. It's time we talk about how highly we value men in entertainment.
The benefit of the doubt is given out like candy on Halloween to these people. Watson is a Christian man who, by all accounts, was seen as a stand-up guy. Hoards of people are rushing to his defense, pleading innocence until proven guilty. It's a concept that's hard to argue, but when 14 people step up against the best athlete in the state of Texas, something is going on there.
According to the FBI, only 8% of rape allegations are proven false. In what world do we honestly believe that all 14 of those women are part of that number? This is either the most extensive character defamation since the Salem Witch Trials, or he's a gigantic piece of human garbage. I'll go with the latter.
People in sports and Hollywood are glorified to an extreme extent, and I don't have a problem with that because they bring people happiness. But when does a fan's cry for touchdowns outweigh the cries of women who were violated? It shouldn't.
What bothers me is the people rushing to protect his innocence. Imagine these allegations are entirely accurate, and you're one of those women sitting there reading and listening to people call you a liar because they refuse to believe their favorite player could ever do such heinous things. It takes so much strength to speak out against these people, and they're met with man-babies who don't want to see their franchise quarterback spend years in prison. Defending allegations of sexual assault makes you part of the problem. When will you realize that 14 cases are enough to qualify a person as a serial rapist?
The entertainment industry has been through this over the last handful of years. Men like Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, Louis C.K. and Kevin Spacey have all seen their careers take a turn after claims against them surfaced. While some have been shoved out of Hollywood, others still walk free. It's a problem in the sports world, but it's a pandemic in entertainment.
I really hope the claims against Watson aren’t valid. But unlike the thousands of people rushing to say the same thing, I couldn't care less about what he does on a football field. If the claims aren't true, that means 14 women weren't sexually assaulted. That's 14 people that don't have to live with that the rest of their lives.
It's time we start holding these public figures accountable and stop giving them the benefit of the doubt because they throw a ball well. They're people, just like the people that take the courage to speak out against them.