The weight of Superman’s cape for Deshaun Watson may have finally been set free.
This time of year I’m usually writing preview or review articles. Throwing out stats and things I see on film. I enjoy finding little nuggets of information that I think will be keys to victory or things to watch for when the Tigers take the field.
Today I want to get away from that momentarily. I want to share my opinion on some things, some observations and revelations that have hit me in the face the last couple of days. There are some big weights tugging on Superman’s Cape.
The expectations of this season were and are, somewhat unrealistic. I had a feeling as the pre-season was winding down that this may be the case. Every article I read, every segment I watched, every show I listened to romanticized the Clemson offense as this mythical beast that was unstoppable.
Four and five-star talent litters the field they said. Expectations of scoring every possession, breaking school records for points and yards, shattering individual records of catches, rushing yards, completions. The only problem, and I admit, I set the bar quite high myself, is that we are hanging our hat on 18-22 year olds.
I remember when I was 18-22 years old. There was no way in this world that I was ready to handle the pressure, the fame, the stardom that some of these kids, and yes they are kids, are asked to handle. And that is where we are today.
Deshaun Watson has a sterling reputation. He is great on the field. He’s great in the classroom. He’s passionate about community service. He possesses a God-given talent that translates perfectly to the football field. He is what you want in a quarterback, in a student, in a human being.
He processes information at a break neck pace and usually makes the correct decisions in the heat of battle. There is a big word in that last sentence.
Are we so caught up in our own agenda that we forget that Watson (who is turning 21 years old on Sept. 14th) makes mistakes and literally has the weight of the world on his shoulders. We saw the real Deshaun in his interview on Monday. He finally admitted that he’s not super human. He finally admitted that the pressure of being the face of Clemson Football, the face of College Football is a lot to handle. By the way, he’s taking a ridiculous work load of college classes and will graduate in December, with a bachelor’s degree, in two and a half years.
“He’s having the time of his life”, we say. “I’d trade places with him in a heartbeat”, you say.
Are you sure?
Have you ever had every move you make, every word you say, every decision you decide scrutinized to the maximum minute detail?
Have you ever been to the mall and had 300 picture and autograph requests, when you’re just trying to buy a pair of shoes? The fame is real, the pressure is real and it caught up with him.
As a 17-year-old freshman, from Gainesville, Georgia the attention was new, it was fresh and exciting. Remember when you started dating someone new? That first couple of months, you’d break your neck to see them.
You thought about them all the time. Nothing else mattered but the next time you’d get to see that person. Then, after a while, you got accustomed to their company, you got used to seeing them.
You took for granted the freshness and electricity that got you to that point in your relationship to start with. Successful relationships notice a lull in the action, and re-evaluate what got them there, and hopefully rekindle that spark that made it so great in the beginning. That is exactly what Watson has done.
Watson got complacent, even aggravated with the media requests, with the autographs, the selfies, the constant attention.
Yes, it was fun at first, but with life, school, the pressure to be the face of a program, oh yeah, and to perform on the field, not just well, but perfectly mind you. It lost its newness, its excitement. It became a job.
The first step in correcting complacency is admit that it’s happened. Kudos to Coach Swinney, and Coach Streeter in noticing, and nipping that in the bud. The psychological part of being a coach is just as important as being a motivator or a master x’s and o’s manipulator. Watson wasn’t having fun, and it showed. In his performance, in his body language, in his leadership.
I’ll be interested to see the renewed enthusiasm this coming Saturday. Yes it’s a noon kickoff, yes its SC State. But I’d be willing to bet the farm on seeing a fun-loving, loose, enthusiastic Deshaun Watson. When that happens, and the team feeds off of that. Look out. Those weights that have been tugging at Superman’s cape have been cut free, and it’s time to watch him fly.