Roger Goodell defends Deshaun Watson suspension appeal, cites evidence of ‘predatory behavior’


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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell defended his decision to appeal the six-game suspension handed down to Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson by an independent disciplinary official last week.

Goodell said Tuesday that he believed the evidence called for a full-year ban instead of just 33% of the regular season. Retired Judge Sue L. He said Robinson was “very clear” about the facts presented in his 16-page report, in which he described Watson’s actions as “outrageous” and “predatory” to the lawsuit.

“Because we’ve seen the evidence,” Goodell said when asked why the NFL was seeking a longer sentence. “She (Robinson) was very clear about the evidence. She reinforced the evidence that there were multiple violations here and they were egregious and it was predatory behavior.

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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media following the conclusion of the NFL Owners Meeting at the Breakers Resort on March 29, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks to the media following the conclusion of the NFL Owners Meeting at the Breakers Resort on March 29, 2022 in Palm Beach, Florida.
(AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

“Those are always things that we felt were really important to us to address and in a responsible way.”

Goodell cited the collective bargaining agreement to authorize the league to seek further discipline.

“Either side can certainly challenge and appeal and we felt that was our right and the NFLPA’s,” he said. “So we decided it was the right thing to do.”

Goodell appointed former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey to handle the appeal. Goodell said he did not have a timeline for when Harvey would make a decision, but expected it to be “quick.”

Watson faced 24 civil lawsuits alleging sexual abuse with massage therapists. He settled 23 of the 24 civil suits before the suspension was announced. He was investigated by two Texas grand juries but avoided criminal charges.

Massage therapists convention to be held in Cleveland as Deshaun Watson remains in the news

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson after the NFL football team's training camp, Wednesday, Aug.  March 3, 2022 in Berea, Ohio.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson after the NFL football team’s training camp, Wednesday, Aug. March 3, 2022 in Berea, Ohio.
(AP Photo/David Richard)

Watson has denied any wrongdoing throughout the matter and made his stance clear in his introductory press conference after being traded from the Houston Texans to the Browns.

“I have never assaulted, disrespected or harassed a woman in my life,” Watson said as he sat next to head coach Kevin Stefanski and general manager Andrew Berry. “I was raised different. That’s not my DNA. That’s not my culture. That’s not me as a person.”

In July, the Texans settled with 30 women after the team allegedly ignored concerns and activated Watson. The terms of the settlement remain confidential.

Watson missed the 2021 season after initially requesting a trade from the Texans. He signed a fully guaranteed five-year contract with the Browns upon joining the team.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson participates in drills during the NFL football team's training camp Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, in Berea, Ohio.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson participates in drills during the NFL football team’s training camp Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, in Berea, Ohio.
(AP Photo/Nick Camet)

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In 2020, Watson had 4,823 passing yards and 33 touchdown passes.

He is expected to travel with the Browns for their first preseason game Friday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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