When Deshaun Watson met with the media early on Monday morning, he did it looking relaxed and confident. If the media did not knew any better, it seemed as if Clemson was coming off another win instead of its first regular season loss in two years.
But Watson, who is now 27-3 as a starter following Saturday’s loss to Pitt, put things into proper perspective. And though football is very important in his life, it’s not his whole life. Even at the young age of 21 years, he understands there are more important things in life than just playing and winning football games.
When Watson was in high school his mother, Deann, was diagnosed with mouth cancer and went through a very long and very painful battle before beating it. It was a period in the Clemson quarterback’s life that forced him to have to grow up, even if he did not want to.
So losing a football game, though as painful as it was for the junior, is nothing in the grand scheme of things.
“It’s just something that I kind of grew up on, especially coming from the environment that I grew up in and the situation with my mom and everything around,” Watson said. “It’s a blessing to be able to play the game of football because one step later, I can easily be taken away from it.
“A lot of people can take it for granted and get caught up in their everyday life and ways of doing everything a certain way, but the next morning, the great life I’m living can be taken away from me.”
So Watson is trying to stay level headed as he and the Tigers reset and try to win the last two games of the regular season. A win at Wake Forest this coming Saturday (7 p.m. ESPN) will clinch the ACC’s Atlantic Division Championship and a berth in the ACC Championship game next month.
“(The loss) could be a blessing in disguise this past weekend,” Watson said. “We are just going to continue to do what we do and focus on what we can control and let everything else take care of itself.”
But whatever happens over the course of the next month, Watson says it is not going to define who he is, and it’s not going to define his life. It doesn’t matter if he his throwing for an ACC record 580 yards and three touchdowns or throwing three interceptions. At the end of the day, he is getting to play a game he loves to play and he appreciates that for what it is, but it does not mean that is who he is.
“I’m just trying to keep a level head and understand what position I’m in and who’s putting me in position because at the end of the day, football isn’t going to be the foundation of my life,” he said. “I always keep perspective and keep my character above all the great things I do on the football field. I don’t want to be looked at as a great football person, I want to be looked at as a guy with great character that’s a student-athlete who’s helping the community and inspiring people by the platform that I have.”
—Photo Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports