New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson is certainly making a strong case for himself on the field, as he looks to replicate part of the production his predecessor Jimmy Graham generated in New Orleans. However, the 34-year-old, 1st round pick in the 2004 Draft is staying plenty busy off the field as well.
Watson, who scored a 48 on his Wonderlic Test (tied for 3rd highest score in NFL history), is also tackling the challenge of race in a new book set to be released in November.
“It’s been an exciting project,” Watson said. “The main script is pretty much done. It’s called ‘Under Our Skin’ and it’s an expansion on my Facebook post I wrote last year on Ferguson, talking about race, talking about how we view each other and our biases that sometimes we don’t even know we have.”
Watson made the national media rounds after posting a poignant commentary on Facebook after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014. Watson’s words and understanding seemed to resonate largely with people on both sides of the issue, especially his phrase: “It’s not a skin problem, it’s a sin problem.”
“The book is mainly directed toward the large, middle part of America that grew up thinking they weren’t racist, but maybe had some things underlying that they didn’t know were there,” Watson said. “The thing that happened in Ferguson touched many of us in a specific way. Since November until now, I’ve written different things about various social issues and gotten some great responses, both for and against. I think that’s wonderful- that people are talking about these issues.”
Watson’s ability to understand both sides of complicated issues such as race, same sex marriage, abortion and Planned Parenthood seems to be a welcome voice of reason to many.
“All of these issues that are going on – it’s important for us as a country to have open and honest dialogue,” Watson said. “Sometimes, we feel like we don’t want to offend people, but there are times that we need to express ourselves without fear that somebody is going to shut us down, simply because we have differing opinions. That’s how we grow.”
Watson and his wife Kristen welcomed their fifth child this summer – a daughter. Watson’s role as a Christian father has certainly helped inspire him to ponder the issue of race and how adults are teaching the next generation to respond to the issue.
“The hope with the book is to open dialogue and get under our skin, to talk about things that are true but maybe uncomfortable,” Watson said. “The goal is to get people out of their comfort zone. Really it’s going to talk a lot about my life and some of my experiences.”
Watson will also theorize about the root of the problem and potential solutions. The most important answer, according to him, is a change of heart.
“We can create laws, we can have equal legislation, we can go to school together and integrate,” Watson said. “But we really need a change of heart deep down and be honest with ourselves that all of us have a propensity to have these sorts of attitudes.”