The Deshaun Watson Factor In Chicago Nobody Wants To Talk About

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deshaun watson factor

The Deshaun Watson to Chicago rumor is one of the draft’s hottest with less than two weeks before the big day. The Bears hold the #3 pick. Most experts agree they need an answer at quarterback. Naturally the faith is lacking in recent free agent signing Mike Glennon, who was benched after two years as a starter in Tampa Bay. Watson represents the young, hopeful talent this fan base wants to get behind.

The last time they did anything like this was back in 2003. Stop and think about that for a moment. That was 14 years ago. Their choice was Rex Grossman, who isn’t even playing anymore. Adding to it is the fact he was the 22nd overall pick. Not even a top five guy. The last one to go that high in Chicago? None other than Jim McMahon in 1982. Everybody knows how that turned out.

Several insiders with close ties to the team believe GM Ryan Pace is aiming to take a QB early. The debate is over who it will be. North Carolina standout Mitch Trubisky is a big name. However, the consensus is building that Watson is their target of choice.

The Deshaun Watson factor is no joke

John Mullin (CSN)

“…the Bears have conducted some of the most exhaustive research and evaluations in recent memory not of one quarterback but multiple quarterback prospects, in particular Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, Texas Tech’s Pat Mahomes and Clemson’s Deshaun Watson.

And the expectation here is that Watson will be the Bears’ selection.”

Greg Gabriel (CBS Chicago)

“Figuring all that into the equation, it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Bears select a quarterback at No. 3. Who will that player be? My guess right now is Watson, who closely fits the profile that Pace has established for a quarterback. He has been a winner and a leader in taking his team to the last two national championship games, including winning a title this past season.”

Why would Pace make him the pick? As usual everything must start from a football perspective. Watson features good size at 6’2″ with above-average speed and athleticism for the position. He can take off and run for first downs when he chooses. This of course overshadows the fact he’s got a decent arm that can make most of the throws in a playbook. It’s not Cutler level by any means, but good enough.

His greatest traits though lay with the intangibles. Teammates and coaches alike rave about Watson as a leader and competitor. His work ethic and preparation are elite, and he has that natural charisma that makes it easy for people to follow him. It’s certainly evident in the success Clemson had with him as the starter. In 2015 and 2016 they played a total of 30 games. Over that span they went 28-2 with both losses being by a combined six points.

The Tigers reached the national championship game both years and just knocked off Alabama for the title. A game in which Watson was magnificent in the clutch.

People can nitpick his game to death but facts are facts. Watson dominated college football and did everything there is to do. It offers enough reason to think he can accomplish more of the same in the NFL. That being said there is added layers to this scenario. A certain subject many people these days don’t wish to talk about. Especially in the wake of an ugly presidential race.

Watson is black and it matters

Might as well just come out and say it. Deshaun Watson is African-American. He was born that way out of Gainesville, Georgia in 1995. The same hometown of one Dexter Fowler for Cubs fans to note. To say it doesn’t matter in the context of this draft would be wrong.

From the perspective of the Bears, it could mean so much. Not just on the field, but off it too. Think of it this way. How insane would the city get if there were a successful quarterback in Chicago? Given the rabid loyalty some have to Jay Cutler, who went 52-52 in his career for them, it’s a pretty fair assumption that things would get apoplectic. Now take it a step further.

How crazy would it get with a successful black quarterback?

The thing to remember about the NFL and all of professional sports is it’s a business. Sure, they’re games that entertain but money still drives everything. Nothing rakes in the cash faster than superstar players. Particularly ones who are able to market to the majority demographic of the teams they represent.

As of 2010, there are 2,695,598 people considered part of the Chicago population. According to the 2000 Census data, 32.4% of that population is African-American. That shakes out to 873,373 people being black within the city limits and immediate surrounding suburbs.

Part of being a sports fan at a young age is being able to project yourself into the image of your favorite players. Like it or not, skin color plays a role in that.

History backs it up

This is not to say white, Latino, or Asian athletes can’t have success in Chicago sports. Far from it. However, history does show that black athletes tend to gain the loftier superstar status in this city. Think about it. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have had infinitely more career success than Derrick Rose. Yet at his peak Rose was far more popular in the city. Not even close.

The most revered Chicago sports icons of all-time are Michael Jordan and Walter Payton. Of course they earned every bit of their accolades, but one can’t say playing in a city that features a majority black population didn’t help fuel their immense popularity. Ask Michael Vick about his peak years with the Atlanta Falcons, another city with a majority black population.

Deshaun Watson would become an instant hero to every young African-American boy who lives in Chicago if he were to succeed here. The financial impact in jersey sales alone would be off the charts. Not only would they want to wear his number. They’d find out what shoe brand he laces up as well. They’d find out what kind of cereal he eats. He’d be a role model.

Superstars who appeal to the demographic of their city is great for business. The Chicago Bears first and foremost want a successful quarterback. That’s the primary goal. Still, if they could get one in Watson, somebody who appeals to the deep African-American heritage in the city, then it could be so much bigger.

The McCaskey family loves money. That’s no secret. Anyone with savvy business sense can see Watson is a potential gold mine if he were to play for the Bears.

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Erik Lambert
Brainwashed by the sports culture as a wee lad, Erik was educated to be a writer at the prestigious Columbia College. He has spent the past 10 years covering the Bears.