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Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson takes part in drills at the NFL football team's practice facility Tuesday, June 14, 2022, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Far from elementary, Watson

So Deshaun Watson has settled the vast majority of his sexual misconduct cases, and the remains of four of the 24 lawsuits could be settled soon.

That does not mean he is in the clear, however.

Watson meets with the NFL, starting today, and it's the first really big litmus test for the new disciplinary process that players fought for in the most recent collective bargaining process.

In years past, miscreant players were heard by Roger Goodell, the commissioner who used phrases like "protecting the brand" and "defending The Shield" as in the NFL logo to help the league save face in PR situations and issue fines and suspensions as the judge, jury and enforcer.

Now players will appeal to a third party, and Sue Robinson, a former federal judge, will hear the NFL's desire for punishment and Watson's statements to be reinstated.

In some ways, Watson will be better served and worse off presenting his case to Robinson.

On the positive side for the embattled first-year Browns QB, Watson will have a much more open ear in Robinson when claiming the NFL's call for an indefinite suspension of at least a year is unfair because NFL owners with known claims of sexual misconduct like Bob Kraft, Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder went unaddressed and unpunished.

On the negative side, Robinson, a female who is compensated equally by the players union and the NFL, would assuredly be more sympathetic to women — and less eager to protect a bona fide one-name NFL star — than the powers that be in the NFL office.

So, Watson's next day in court starts today, and it could stretch into Wednesday.

One more caveat about the importance of Watson making his case believable to Robinson: If Watson and the NFLPA need to appeal, that appeal goes over Robinson's head and lands right on — wait for it — Roger Goodell's desk.  

Unbalanced fields

So the LIV. Yeah, that again.

But this is different. This is something the PGA Tour could never have expected, especially after Phil Mickelson's incredulous comments in February and the tidal wave of backlash from them.

The second LIV event will be this weekend in Portland. The field includes Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Matt Wolff, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson and Mickelson, among others in a field of 48 of 54 holes with no cuts and everyone makes at least $120,000.

This weekend's John Deere will be in Silvis, Ill. — yeah I'm not sure where that is either — and Webb Simpson, ranked 58th in the world, is the top-rated player in the field. The favorites are rookie Sahith Theegala, Adam Hadwin and Simpson. Yes, we knew the deep-pocketed Saudis were always going to be able to money whip the Tour and lure some of the big names with guaranteed dollars.

But did any of us think this early in the calendar, the divide in star power and talent would be this dramatic on the side of LIV?

Asked another way, if CBS had the option of airing LIV's final round or the final round from the John Deere, and they had to pick on this Tuesday morning, which do you think they are choosing? Which would you choose?

And before the networks and broadcast partners climb aboard the high horse named Hypocrisy about 'sports washing' cultures, didn't NBC and its family of networks air a billion hours of Being Olympics coverage? Aren't ABC and the Worldwide Leader pegged for a full slate of World Cup action this November from Qatar, whose governmental leadership and bidding for the FIFA event have been so corrupt Enron is envious?

Yeah, thought so.

So the PGA Tour can bemoan the Saudis' endless pockets, but for all the rah-rah speeches Rory and JT and Jon Rahm and those dudes are making, this cannot be a habit for PGA Tour stops.

Because all the "playing for legacy" and "competing against the best" make for great sound bites. And I believe those guys, who are among the top handful of players on the planet.

But the rubber meeting the road is a) if the LIV schedules against these events like the John Deere, the PGA looks inferior; b) the PGA could promise complete Tour coverage because there were no other golf options in the depths of summer; c) will the Tour and its loyal stars be willing to balance schedules and fields through the next couple of years to directly compete against the LIV.

Those are real hurdles that can't be explained away with a shoulder shrug and the complaints of the Saudis' unlimited debit card.
 

Gun's next bullet

OK, so I'm willing to discuss "Top Gun: Maverick" now in terms of sequels.

It's not "Godfather 2" in my view, but I'm not sure anything ever will be. And to be fair, the second film in the Corleone saga is both prequel and sequel.

Taking that out of the equation, I will put "Top Gun: Maverick" — the summer's biggest blockbuster and Tom Cruise's first $1 billion box office hit — right there with any sequel ever made.

And yes, that includes "Terminator 2" which ages like a fine wine, and any others.

It also makes this story of absolute zero surprise, even if it had not dawned on me until now.

Of course, Paramount is going to spin the "Maverick" mega-success into a whole Top Gun universe.

Especially Paramount, the studio that found success with "Yellowstone" and has redirected that into a half-dozen different vehicles. (Side note: Seriously, look at the number of "Yellowstone" spinoffs: We had the splendid "1883" which will lead us to "1932" which will include Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren. "1883" also will have a spinoff "1883: The Bass Reaves story," and that's not counting the "6666" ranch spinoff with Jimmy. Man, if you have a script with a number in it, Paramount may be interested.)

As for Maverick, you have to believe Goose's son will get a spin-off for sure, right? Heck, would it surprise us if the next script for whatever happens to Maverick and Jennifer Connolly — speaking of aging like a fine wine — has already been green-lit and fast-tracked?

Of course, and of course not.

(Although please take the same measure with the next Top Gun, Mr. Cruise that you did with this one. No one needs a Godfather 3, you know?)
 

This and that

— Here's today's A2 column from some round-faced fella on the less-controversial and far-less-publicized SCOTUS decision on the Washington state high school football coach and postgame prayer.

— We have now hit the part of summer that when the Braves have an off day, we can all feel it, you know?

— Saw this stat on Twitter: In a little over half a year, teams Stan Kroenke owns have won championship rings in the NFL (Rams), the NHL (Avalanche) and the National Lacrosse League (Colorado Mammoth). Could an owner be SI sportsman of the year, because that's pretty awesome?

— Dear Lord of real-life nightmares. Here's a story and footage of an 18-foot python discovered in the Florida Everglades last year. Details of the record-setting snake were realized this weekend. Buckets of boas, that would ruin your afternoon.

— Want to know the value in overpaying NIL — allegedly — for star-power QBs. It levels the recruiting playing field with the superpowers. Because Nick Saban and Kirby Smart can say they are going to play for championships and rely on their programs' pedigree. Now Steve Sarkisian can say Texas is going to compete for titles because of Arch Manning, his QB prodigy. It clearly helped land stud safety Derek Williams, a five-star from Louisiana, who had offers from all the big dogs.

— As Paschall notes here in a Harris English feature, last week's Travelers included three Baylor School alums.

— Harris English and Luke List tied for 19th, Keith Mitchell sixth — in the top 20. Combined, those dudes earned $532,792 playing golf this weekend — which averages out to $2,466.63 per hole per former Red Raider.

— And someone from the Baylor Alumni office needs to be making some calls, you know?

— Dang, the world is broken, and if you need any more proof, this story adds the exclamation point to that sentiment. An employee at an Atlanta Subway was shot and killed and another customer injured in an altercation Sunday. The genesis of this life-ending, life-changing encounter? Too much mayo on a man's sandwich.

— And only in today's world can this headline not even really raise an eyebrow: "Kendall Jenner Kicks Off Her Single Era with Tastefully Nude Instagram." Say what? Is there a way to be tastefully nude on social media? And get off my lawn and turn down that devilish rock-n-roll."
 

Today's questions

True or false, it's Tuesday. Morning Ernie.

True or false, Mel Brooks, who is 96 today, is the best comedy director of all time.

True or false, when old folks like Brooks are trending on Twitter, you immediately fear death.

True or false, you struggled for something to watch on TV last night without the Braves.

True or false, you are more interested in LIV than the PGA Tour this weekend.

True or false, "Top Gun: Maverick" is in the conversation of best sequels ever made.

As for today, June 28, let's review.

Did you know on this day in 1846, the saxophone was patented?

Rushmore of horns and be creative — and respectful of a family-oriented, interweb-based conversation.

 

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