You can tell a lot about someone from how they treat people — they don’t have to be nice to. Deshaun Watson’s a homie.
I met him at the Gatorade Athlete of the Year Awards in Los Angeles recently. We didn’t talk about football. We talked about hip-hop. I asked him what was bangin’ in the whip. He rattled off a who’s who of Atlanta rap right now.
“You know, I’m an Atlanta guy, so I have all the Young Thug, Future, Gucci, 21 Savage; I have all that,” he said.
We opined on the evolution of Gucci Mane. When I brought up the picture of Gucci on the bicycle, Deshaun lost it. We both had a good laugh.
Media poker face gone, I was no longer talking to Deshaun Watson, franchise quarterback for the Houston Texans. I was talking to Deshaun Watson, friendly hip-hop head.
“Gucci always go hard. Gucci’s the OG, so I’m always rockin’ with Gucci,” he said.
I asked him what his favorite Gucci track was. Deshaun goes about 6’3, 220 lb, but he was crushed by the weight of this question; certainly the toughest thrown his way all night.
I could see him sifting through his mental Gucci discography. Dozens of mixtapes. Hundreds of songs. Gucci’s body of work is so extensive that it’s a question with no right answer. I offered “Bricks” as a lifeline. Delighted, Deshaun chimed in, “All white bricks,” nodding to the Zaytoven beat now playing in his head.
Our conversation led to Migos. “I’m on that Culture,” he said.
I know he’s on that Culture because he started laughing when I said “Slippery” in my best Migos voice. He’s seen the music video:
Of all the bangers on Culture, “Big On Big” is Deshaun’s favorite. It’s not hard to see why. A national championship to the NFL? Big on big.
Deshaun’s roots are in Georgia, but his new home is in Texas. It’s only a two-hour flight back to Atlanta, and he’s got a kindred spirit on the Texans in fellow Clemson alum DeAndre Hopkins, but he’s still learning about the rap scene in Houston; there’s a lot of culture there (little c). “I only know Bun B, Slim Thug, Paul Wall; the Houston OGs. I’m still learning about the city,” Watson tells us.
By the end of the season, I’m sure he’ll be able to name all members — past and present — of the Geto Boys. He’ll probably have Scarface on speed dial.
Dabo Sweeny, Deshaun’s college coach, said before the draft that passing on Deshaun Watson would be like passing on Michael Jordan. I can’t speak on that, but if either of the quarterbacks drafted ahead of him (Mitchell Trubisky, 2nd overall to the Bears or Patrick Mahomes, 10th overall to the Chiefs) have half as much sauce as Deshaun, I’ll eat my hat.