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NFL’s Preeminent Creep Now Trying To Lure League To Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia looms uncomfortably behind just about every major sports league in the world. Seeking to reinforce this position, a member of the Saudi royal family is now using Deshaun Watson as a shill.

Watson, who was sued by 26 women accusing him of sexually assaulting them during massage therapy appointments, revealed his cozy relationship with Saudi Arabia in a Twitter post Tuesday night. The tweet, written in that stilted language specific to anyone being paid to talk, thanked Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad for his hospitality and concluded with hope for the future: "And God willing, we will see the [NFL] in Saudi Arabia soon. May peace be with you!"

Perhaps sensing that Watson's soul is particularly easy to purchase, his hosts also had him throw on a thawb and record some videos about his trip. In one video, the Cleveland Browns quarterback poses a question that nobody wants answered: "What do we need to do to get an American football game to the Middle East region?"

For Watson, the first step to getting people from the Middle East interested in football is getting them to understand the rules. After that, they need to be enticed by the storylines that make up the league. "What are the stories behind each team?" he said in the video. "I think the stories behind the players, the coaching staffs, giving them something interesting to kind of look forward to." Watson is correct: There certainly are some interesting stories to tell about certain players in the NFL.

It might seem strange to settle on someone as distasteful as Watson as an ambassador for the NFL's relationship with Saudi Arabia, but the country's previous forays into sportswashing have never been anything but oafish. Saudi Arabia's unseemliness has yet to really get in the way of its attempts to insert itself into sports leagues across the world, and it has good reason to be targeting the NFL now. Everyone, especially the NFL's owners, can see that franchise valuations are becoming untenably high, which increases the likelihood that sovereign wealth funds become the only entities rich enough to purchase an NFL team. When the time comes, Saudi Arabia and other petrostates will be ready to make a bid.

Watson's extremely off-putting and seemingly brief Saudi press tour can be set aside for now, but in 2035, when the Dallas Cowboys play their first regular-season game in front of their new owners in Riyadh, and a player dies of heat stroke in a stadium that bars gay people from entry, we will look back on this day and remember that the first step toward a bright future was taken by an historically accomplished sex creep recording a front-facing video.

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