Peter King was at the Cleveland Browns preseason game over the weekend as part of his world tour to prepare for the 2022 NFL season. With Deshaun Watson being one of the bigger storylines, King decided to take the temperature in The Land and find out how people really felt about the new Browns quarterback. First King staked out a team store. Via Football Morning in America:
In the Cleveland Browns Pro Shop, four jerseys were for sale, two on top of two. Top two: Myles Garrett’s 95 and Nick Chubb’s 24. Bottom two: Denzel Ward’s 21, Deshaun Watson’s 4. I asked a shopper, young woman, if she’d buy a Watson jersey. “Too soon,” she said.
Anecdotal, but probably accurate. King then set up shop and started taking notes about what everyone was wearing.
Outside, I posted up to count the passersby for 15 minutes. Of 163 jerseys I counted on fans, I saw Kosar, Manziel, Mayfield, Garrett (the most), Chubb, Beckham Jr., (Jim) Brown, (Joe) Thomas, even an Owusu-Koramoah. Zero Watsons.
It's going to be tough to recoup that $230 million if people don't even want to buy his jersey, but the fact that Browns fans are still openly supporting Jim Brown should tell you that they'll get over it if Watson plays well.
King also spoke with one fan at another location who said he would watch the NFL this year, but not the Browns. That's easy to say now as Watson will sit out two-thirds of the season, but how will that guy and the other fans react next year when Watson is there for the first game of the season and expectations are the playoffs and maybe Super Bowl contention? It seems pretty obvious where this is headed and that's the pro shop for the people still wearing Johnny Manziel, Joe Thomas and OBJ jerseys.