Does Deshaun Watson Masseuse-Gate Matter to the Betting World?

The Houston Texans are facing another dismal season by most predictive measures.

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Texans at Redskins 11/18/18

To understand the sportsbook and the betting odds, understand it’s a fluid beast. You might be able to find the exact article that was posted first about the trouble Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson now finds himself relating to more than a dozen massage therapists claiming he was sexually inappropriate with them during massage sessions. Understand that bookmakers had already factored Watson’s legal predicament before the ink dried on that article. Or since everything is digital now, before the story was crawled by Google bots.

After two solid regular seasons in 2018 and 2019, both of which ended with first-round playoff losses, the Texans slid badly to a 4-12 mark in the 2020 NFL season, with many on the team disgruntled at management for poor offseason trades and lack of general direction and leadership. Chief among those critics was talented QB, Deshaun Watson. Watson is arguably the second most talented young QB in the NFL, behind only Patrick Mahomes, who not only has the physical skills but taken his Chiefs team to consecutive Super Bowl appearances.

Though Watson had just inked a multi-year contract with the Texans, the minute he started publicly bemoaning the organization, trade rumors advanced in the always content-hungry NFL offseason. That begins approximately 60-seconds after the Super Bowl ends. You thought it was The Equalizer, but for men, it was the NFL offseason news and rumors. And that rumor mill cranked up hard for Watson to be dealt to the Jets, 49ers, Broncos, or Dolphins. However, once word leaked out from the Texans, who publicly stated they’d never let Watson go, that the asking price was a trade partner’s first-round draft picks until the turn of the next century plus two start veteran players, the rumor mill slowed down.

Ashley Solis, one of the Deshaun Watson masseuse accusers, cries during a press conference explaining her charges against the Houston Texans’ quarterback (source: ABC13.com)

Then when news broke that an attorney representing over 20 women who claim that over the past three years, Deshaun Watson hired them for professional massage services were filing a civil action against him for being sexually inappropriate, if not assaultive, with them during the course of their services, that rumor mill ground to a halt. While there is plenty of reason to question the veracity of these claims, especially given there still exists no criminal filing of any charges. However, Watson through his attorney didn’t deny the fact that he had hired a near world record number of ladies to provide him private massage services. At the very least, this kind of extracurricular hobby is fraught with peril.

The issue remains, even if Watson eventually has all of these civil suits dismissed or settled, the NFL can still suspend him for untoward behavior with or toward these female accusers. To date, only one NFL executive has spoken out on the Watson matter, very recently, and he was extremely vague:

“I think we’ve learned a lot, I’ve been part of it, from Ray Rice, on how we look at violence towards women, or the allegations of violence against women. Lisa Friel has led our investigations there, and every case is different, and rather than assuming and jumping out there, you get all the facts in.”

Troy Vincent, NFL Executive VP of Operations

If you know the history of the NFL on such matters, hide them and hope they go away, then overreact when caught doing so. It’s not been exactly an even-keeled response when it comes to NFL stars and their imbroglios, criminal or not, with the women in their lives, paid or otherwise.

As far as Watson is concerned, his lawyer may be figuring out the financial settlement to make the accusers all sign NDAs, even if he’s not technically guilty of the allegations, but that won’t stop the NFL from making sure he’s not missing games this coming season. Given that no other NFL would touch Watson now save for a sweetheart deal that would make no sense for the Texans, he must be settling into the fact he will be a Houston Texas for the coming season.

The fact a number of the accusers are more willing now to go public with their charges is not a great sign for Deshaun Watson.

Getting back to the sportsbook, how does this affect the odds. The short answer is, not much. The Texans are currently +15000 to win the Super Bowl. Or what we used to call 150-1. That’s the longest odds on any team at this point in the offseason. The Texans’ over/under on wins for the season is 4.5 games. They are not expected to do any better this season than their disappointing season last year. And that was with Deshaun Watson posting rather impressive individual numbers.

Naturally, the odds reflect the uncertainty surrounding Watson. Not necessarily that he will be arrested, probably not that he will be traded, but that the NFL will have to make an example out of his interactions with these masseuses and issue a multi-game suspension. Without Watson, Tyrod Taylor becomes the starter. Taylor is the consummate NFL journeyman now on his fifth team in ten years in the league, only three of those as a mediocre-stats starter. Expect that if Watson’s legal case worsens beyond a civil settlement, or if the league suspension because a certainty, the odds go from worst in the league, to, well, even worse.

Texas is a gambling kind of place. But wagering on the upside for the Texans seems like a bit of a reach for even the most loyal local money. With the sportsbooks already labeling the Texans the worst odds team in football, it’s hard to imagine there’s many people going in on them being even worse than expected.

While the Deshaun Watson story is big NFL offseason movies, you wouldn’t expect it’ll have much impact on much betting action.

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