Cal McNair's Attorney Contacted Lawyers in Deshaun Watson Cases, Suggested Mediation

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 22, 2021

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 26: Texans Chairman and new CEO, D. Cal McNair hugs Houston Texans Quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) following the football game between the Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans on November 26, 2018 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A Houston Texans spokesperson confirmed team owner Cal McNair was "aware" his personal attorney contacted lawyers involved in the Deshaun Watson civil cases to suggest mediation.

"Mr. McNair has had no personal involvement in any of those discussions. The Houston Texans organization has not had any direct contact with either party," the spokesperson told Sports Illustrated on Friday.

Watson is the defendant in 22 civil lawsuits filed on behalf of women who have said the Texans quarterback committed sexual assault or misconduct during massage sessions with them since the start of 2020.

Rusty Hardin, the lawyer for Watson, released a statement last week saying Tony Buzbee, the lawyer for the 22 women, had reached out "on numerous occasions" to talk about a potential settlement:

"In a recent interview, Mr. Buzbee stated that 'a settlement is not happening.' We certainly agree that there are currently no settlement negotiations being conducted. While we have never approached Mr. Buzbee about a settlement, he has approached us on numerous occasions in the past about the possibility of a settlement. We have made clear all along that there would be no settlement unless the terms are made public and all participants are allowed to speak in their own defense at all times. We want none of the participants—the plaintiffs or Mr. Watson—muzzled by a settlement agreement. Mr. Buzbee does not feel the same."

Buzbee responded to that allegation in an Instagram post alongside a picture of a non-disclosure agreement:

"Not that many care about it anymore. But there is a thing called 'justice.' And we will find it. Contrary to what Mr. Rusty says, we haven't 'approached them to settle,' ever. When they approached us they insisted we sign this. We obviously didn't reach out to them; they begged us via the Texans to mediate. We hold the cards. The truth sometimes or most of the time hurts!!!! We approached them?!? My ass."

Watson has spent the first four years of his NFL career with the Texans, who selected him with the 12th overall pick in the 2017 draft. He became the focus of trade rumors earlier this offseason because of his discontent with the organization before the allegations were reported.

Now his availability for the 2021 season is in question, with the league announcing in April it launched its own investigation under the personal conduct policy:

"The allegations are deeply disturbing and we take these issues very seriously. Immediately following news of the first allegations last month, and as has been reported, we initiated an investigation under the NFL's personal conduct policy. We are continuing to closely monitor all developments in the matter."

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk believes the Texans have "good reason" to push the sides, directly or indirectly, toward a settlement: "If they don’t, they can’t get full value in a trade for Watson. If they don’t, the Texans also run the risk of Watson showing up for training camp, the league placing him on paid leave, and the Texans eventually paying him more than $10 million to not play for them this season."

Watson is under contract with Houston through the 2025 season as part of a four-year, $156 million deal.

Tyrod Taylor, Jeff Driskel, Ryan Finley and 2021 third-round pick Davis Mills are the other quarterbacks on the Texans roster.