ESPN NFL analyst Sam Ponder spent several minutes crying about Deshaun Watson’s Cleveland Browns debut on Sunday.
Watson, who had been out of regular season action for more than 700 days after more than 20 women accused him of sexual misconduct, returned this weekend.
The 27-year-old’s game against his former team, the Houston Texans, has been intensely scrutinized all week.
Things came to a head on Sunday when, during a broadcast of her NFL show, Ponder went on a deep, emotional rant about Watson.
Her words largely speak for themselves:
— 9thwonder_52 (@9thwonder_52) December 4, 2022
“Is he a conniving predator or a sympathetic victim?” she asked.
“A wolf in sheep’s clothing, or prey to manipulative liars who only see double dollar signs? Are we privileged enough to not really have to think about it? Unaffected enough to just move on and cheer as long as he serves his purpose to win games and generate profit? Right.
“He missed 11 weeks and paid a fine. He has not been convicted of anything and he vehemently maintained his innocence. But he also apologized to the women he impacted.
“This isn’t about admitting mistakes and promising to do better. We’re all flawed and we shouldn’t require more out of a ballplayer than we do ourselves. But this is about whether or not Deshaun Watson is a serial sexual abuser.”
Fan reaction to Ponder’s words varied.
Sam ponder with these fake tears over deshaun Watson, was she upset with ben roethlisberger, or did she speak with this passion about the Jerry Jones situation GTFO #Espn
— Sjohn (@KobeHead248) December 4, 2022
Sam Ponder just tee’d off on Deshaun Watson.
— Andy Burkett (@CoachABurkett) December 4, 2022
— Focus Da Hustla (@ATP_fdh305) December 4, 2022
@samponder stfu and stop crying he did something to you lol. Your just up crying for clout. Nobody gives a shit about ur feelings. Lol
— Aaron Colunga (@AaronColunga4) December 4, 2022
I think Sam Ponder on ESPN came the closest to doing to best to addressing it.. she was nearly in tears. I think she is thoroughly disgusted by it but also has a job to do.
— Erin (@erin_not_amber) December 4, 2022
Watson’s return has garnered a lot of reactions. This t-shirt a fan wore to the game is telling.
As was Watson’s girlfriend’s behavior at his first game back.
In that regard, it’s unsurprising that Ponder would be so emotional about the subject.
This is more of the same.
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 3, 2022
Will Watson opt to come out and address Ponder’s sentiments, given that the two have some history?
Or will he simply ignore them and hope they go away?
An answer will emerge soon enough.
A longtime sports reporter, Carlos Garcia has written about some of the biggest and most notable athletic events of the last 5 years. He has been credentialed to cover MLS, NBA and MLB games all over the United States. His work has been published on Fox Sports, Bleacher Report, AOL and the Washington Post.