NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell didn’t mince words when asked why the league is still pushing for Deshaun Watson to be suspended for at least a year, using words like “egregious” and “predatory” in reference to the dated Cleveland Quarterback Actions Committed.
When asked why the NFL was appealing Watson’s six-game ban, Goodell was quick to point to the evidence against Watson, whom 24 different women accused in separate civil lawsuits of sexual assault and improper conduct during massage sessions.
“We saw the evidence, she expressed the evidence very clearly, she reinforced the evidence.” said Goodell, referring to the August 1 decision made by Sue L. Robinson, the league’s disciplinary officer. “There were several breaches that were egregious and it was predatory behavior. These are things that we have always wanted to do responsibly.”
Goodell, speaking at the owners’ meetings in Bloomington on Tuesday, reiterated the league’s stance as he justified the appeal, alleging that Watson committed four separate violations of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy.
Deshaun Watson at Browns training camp on Tuesday. Getty Images
“Each party could certainly contest and dispute this and we felt that we had a right to do so. … So we decided it was the right thing to do.”
The NFL previously appointed Peter C. Harvey, formerly the New Jersey Attorney General, to hear the appeal of Watson’s suspension. Harvey’s decision, once made, will not be contested. Goodell said he has no idea when Harvey will make a decision.
Roger Goodell spoke on Tuesday about the NFL’s appeal of Deshaun Watson’s suspension. Denver Post via Getty Images
The league is believed to be pushing for an indefinite suspension of Watson, which would last at least a year. ESPN reports that the NFL is also seeking a fine because Watson signed a five-year, $230 million deal with the Browns after being traded by the Texans.
In Robinson’s decision to only suspend Watson for six games, she cited precedent and current league policy, though she called the behavior “more egregious than any previously reviewed by the NFL.”