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Reporters discuss impact of Deshaun Watson trade for Cleveland Browns fans, franchise

Cleveland Browns leadership on Sunday officially announced the team's trade for Deshaun Watson. [Tim Harrison / Ideastream Public Media]
Cleveland Browns leadership on Sunday officially announced the team's trade for Deshaun Watson. [Tim Harrison / Ideastream Public Media]

Football reigns in Northeast Ohio. Fans have their pick of football teams at every rung of competition:  from high school rivalries such as St. Edward and St. Ignatius or Canton McKinley and Massillon, to the collegiate level and the Ohio State Buckeyes, all the way to the NFL and the Cleveland Browns.

Fans are interested in what happens on the field and of course they want to win.  But an off-the-field  personnel move the Browns made recently in the name of improvement has some fans questioning their continued support of the team.

The Browns traded for a new starting quarterback, signing Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans for several draft picks and a boatload of money.  The Browns gave Watson a 5-year, $230 million contract.  All of the money guaranteed.

The contract is a history-maker for the NFL to date and the guaranteed money and the draft picks have elicited conversation among fans.  But it is the off-the-field allegations that surround Watson that has drawn in sports and non-sports fans. Nearly two dozen women have accused Watson of sexual misconduct.  The women work as massage therapists or personal trainers in the Houston area that were booked for appointments by Watson.

Two separate grand juries considered evidence against Watson and declined charges against him.  However, 22 civil cases remain pending against him.  Also pending, possible suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

So the debate and difficulty for fans is can they support Watson and the Browns with the allegations he faces.  Watson emphatically denies wrongdoing. He categorically denied the allegations at his introductory news conference in Cleveland last Friday and says he is working to clear his name.  This story has transcended sports.

Later in the show, Ohio voters will decide a number of big races this year including statewide offices and the successor for outgoing United States Senator Rob Portman (R-OH).

The primary is still set for May 3 unless lawmakers move to split or delay it which they have not done.

Today and Tuesday, primary voters will get a chance to hear from Democratic and Republican candidates for U.S. Senate and Democratic candidates for governor.  Organizers canceled the Republican primary gubernatorial debate after Governor Mike DeWine and challenger Jim Renacci refused to take part.

 Statehouse News Bureau Chief Karen Kasler, who will be moderating the Senate Republican primary debate previews that contest and the others which will be held at Central State University in Wilberforce, outside of Dayton.  

Finally, as we hope you've heard by now, 89.7 WKSU is now the primary NPR station for Northeast Ohio.  We'll still be bringing you the same, thoughtful, engaging, and robust conversations you've come to expect here on The Sound of Ideas. You'll also continue to hear those flagship NPR programs like Morning Edition, and All Things Considered. And you'll still hear all the great local, and regional reporting you expect from Ideastream.

You will be hearing that great coverage and programming delivered from familiar and new voices.  We thought it would be worth the time to end the program today by introducing you to the people behind those voices.

Marla Ridenour, Reporter, Akron Beacon Journal 
John McClain, Sports Writer, The Houston Chronicle
Karen Kasler, Statehouse News Bureau Chief, Ohio Public Radio 
Mike McIntyre, Executive Editor, Ideastream Public Media
Amanda Rabinowitz, All Things Considered Host, Ideastream Public Media
Amy Eddings, Morning Edition Host, Ideastream Public Media
Jeff St. Clair, Midday News Host, Ideastream Public Media 

Leigh Barr is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable."