The Texans quarterback might force a trade, but it’s hard to see him agreeing to a deal that brings him to Chicago.
Let’s pretend that there’s no pandemic and that you’ve been invited to a party. I know: You pretend this at least five times a day.
You’re shocked you’ve received the invitation because several years earlier the host had let you know, in no uncertain terms, that you were not worthy of his time, his admiration or the price of a stamp.
You, being the reasonable, not-at-all-vindictive person that you are, RSVP him: “Are you kidding, you Repulsive, Stupid, Villainous Person?”
I bring this up because the Bears should — should — be one of the many teams interested in trading for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. Watson reportedly is upset that Houston hasn’t involved him as it decides on a new head coach. Whether the Texans actually will trade a disgruntled superstar remains to be seen, but that hasn’t stopped the NFL teams and fan bases that covet a great quarterback from donning bibs to address a major drooling outbreak.
The Bears are a natural trading partner because they haven’t had an excellent quarterback since the ’40s, and please don’t ask me which century. One problem: In the run-up to the 2017 draft, Bears general manager Ryan Pace hadn’t given Watson the time of day, even though the kid had won a national championship at Clemson. Didn’t give him a lengthy interview. Didn’t take him out to dinner.
Or, as Watson tweeted last May, the Bears “NEVER ONCE talked to me’’ in the weeks leading up to the draft.
What they did do was wine and dine North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky. We’ve all seen the results of that unfortunate decision — the Bears spinning their wheels in a never-ending search for a quarterback and Watson admiring his career 104.5 passer rating, second-highest in league history behind the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes (108.7), who you might have heard was also on the business end of a Bears’ snubbing in the 2017 draft.
Now, the one attribute most common in elite athletes is their loooooooooooooong memories. For motivational purposes, they’re able to turn an innocent comment from an opponent into an outrageous insult that can only be answered with pistols and 10 paces at dawn. Michael Jordan did it all the time, reducing some poor soul who had said, “Hi, M.J.,’’ “Nice shoes’’ or “Where should I eat after the game?” to skeletal remains.
If Watson is anything like the vast majority of the athletes I’ve covered, he’s not going to agree to a trade to a team that had so publicly dissed him. He has a no-trade clause in his contract, meaning he can veto any deal.
If you’re Pace, how do you explain your cold shoulder to Watson, if he gives you the opportunity to explain? I was concussed at the time? I had gambling debts? I like soccer?
It’s not just that the Bears insulted Watson by deciding against having dinner with him. It’s that they traded up to the No. 2 spot overall to take Trubisky, who had done next to nothing as a college quarterback. Watson, on the other hand, had passed for a combined 825 yards and seven touchdowns in back-to-back national title games against Alabama.
Four years later, how would he be able to look across the table at Pace when the general manager tells him, “No, really, I love you’’? How would he not be able to say to Pace, “You took him over me?’’
But remove the emotion from the equation, even if that’s next to impossible to do. The Bears don’t have a lot of talent on offense, they don’t call plays particularly well, and Pace and coach Matt Nagy should — should — be gone if the team doesn’t succeed in 2021. Nothing about the situation speaks of imminent success or long-term stability. It speaks of a franchise that doesn’t know how to win. If you listened to the Bears’ end-of-season press conference, you know that Pace et al believe they could collaborate their way out of a nuclear apocalypse. Somehow, I don’t think collaboration is Watson’s end game.
At least 10 teams likely would be interested in acquiring the 25-year-old, some of them much more flawed than the Bears are. But only one team so publicly ignored him in the pursuit of Trubisky. Odds are that Watson is going to maintain about 6,000 miles of separation from whatever party the Bears want to throw for him.
That’s OK. The Bears being the Bears, they’re probably getting ready to email a statement to the media. Subject: Mitch Is Our Quarterback.