HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) -- Approaching 25 years old in less than a week, Deshaun Watson is finding his voice as one of the NFL’s leading stars.
The Texans quarterback, fresh off his four-year, $160 million extension, spoke candidly in an interview with ESPN -- about racism, the scrutiny of a Black quarterback, and his previous reluctance to address the issues he tackles with ease today.
Watson spoke on the social justice movement within sports; his role in challenging the NFL to take racism seriously; what it’s like as a superstar high school quarterback in rural Georgia; being the starter for Clemson University, where some symbols conjure racist images; and reflects as a young Black QB in the NFL who watched Colin Kaepernick seemingly get blackballed for taking a stand.
"To keep it real with you, I feel like whenever a Black quarterback speaks up, the outside world sometimes doesn't think they're educated enough to know what's going on,” Watson told ESPN. “So in reality, they're like, 'Hey, y'all Black quarterbacks -- shut up. Y'all don't know what y'all talking about.'"
ESPN also spoke at length with Watson’s personal quarterback coach Quincy Avery, who added perspective on what Watson faces and how he navigates.
Avery recalled his and Watson’s 30-day trip to Europe and Asia last year added layers of understanding for the young star, in terms of the sacrifices people make so their country can be better.
They took note of how in Germany, there is a strict ban on Nazi symbols and some gestures insensitive to the Holcaust can even land someone in jail.
Yet Watson attended a university where he and fellow Clemson alum DeAndre Hopkins petitioned to have a racist statue removed, years after they played football there.
Or in China, where Watson and Avery witnessed a single anti-government protester get beaten and tossed into a van at a military parade, which then continued “like nothing ever happened,” Avery said.
Check out the full ESPN feature here.
Watson and Patrick Mahomes on Thursday will be two of 10 Black quarterbacks expected to start Week 1, the most ever in NFL history.