This is probably going to come off wrongly, and I’ll wind up looking like an asshole yet again.
But I’ve been thinking about it and thinking about it and thinking about it—so now I’ll just brace myself and ask: Why have so many of us watched Deshaun Watson give his paycheck to three Houston Texan cafeteria workers whose lives were devastated by the Hurricane Harvey?
Wait. To be clear, Deshaun Watson seems to be a caring and lovely man, and this is not (in any possible way) a smackdown of him or his intentions. He surrendered $27,353, and that’s potentially life-changing coin. I guess what I don’t get—and what troubles me all the time—is the need to have this on film for the world to see, and see again, and see again.
If you’re the women working in the cafeteria, probably making minimal dough while living through the post-hurricane hell that is their lives, do you have an option whether to be included in the segment? I mean, I’m sure they were given a choice. I guess. Kind of. But did the Texans say, “It’s 100 percent up to you whether you want this to be made public” or did the Texans say, “Look, it’s up to you, but, you know, we’d really like to get this out there”? Were they informed beforehand? Was this all sprung upon them?
Again, bravo to Watson. But having spent more than two decades covering sports (and, in particular, seeing the NFL PR monster at work), motives bring out the skepticism. The Texans would surely argue that clips like this might inspire others to do good deeds. But the Texans would also surely argue (well, they probably wouldn’t say so aloud) that clips like this inspire people to buy No. 4 Texan jerseys. And Texan hats. And Texan T-shirts. And Texan season tickets. There is, after all, a Texan employee filming the entire exchange. This was planned, timed, choreographed, edited.
I actually keep thinking about those Random Acts of Helpfulness commercials from Honda. You know the ones I’m referring to—Honda reps show up randomly to upgrade a picnic, or shave men on Father’s Day. Whenever I see them I think, “Um, that’s great. But wouldn’t it be 1,000,000 times more impressive—and 1,000,000,000,000 times more decent—if you had Random Acts of Helpfulness without identifying yourself as Honda? Like, what if you behaved righteously simply to behave righteously—not to ultimately have me think you’re kind and then charge $25k for a car?
Come to think of it, I recently had a former NBA player speak to my journalism class at Chapman University, and a student asked whether he found most of his former peers to be charitable. He openly scoffed at the question, and told the story of how team representatives had to literally bribe athletes to attend charitable functions.
So, again, I give huge props to Deshaun Watson. I truly do.
I’m just wondering whether—when we’re dealing with three women whose lives were unturned—it needs to be on tape.