Roger Goodell may not be hearing the NFL’s appeal of Deshaun Watson’s six-game suspension, but he still has strong thoughts about it.
The NFL commissioner spoke to reporters on Tuesday and said the evidence against the Cleveland Browns quarterback calls for a one-year suspension.
“We’ve seen the evidence,” Goodell said when asked about the league’s pursuit of a one-year ban for Watson (h/t James Palmer). “ [Judge Sue L. Robinson] was very clear about the evidence, should we enforce the evidence. That there was multiple violations here, and they were egregious and it was predatory behavior. Those are things that we always felt were important for us to address in a way that’s responsible.”
Goodell said the league believes Watson committed four violations of the Personal Conduct Policy. Robinson wrote in her 16-page report that “the NFL carried its burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Mr. Watson engaged in sexual assault (as defined by the NFL) against the four therapists identified in the Report.”
Robinson announced Watson’s six-game suspension on Aug. 1 as a result of an NFL disciplinary hearing after he was accused of sexual misconduct by two dozen massage therapists. The NFL and NFLPA had three days to appeal the ruling, and the NFL did so on Aug. 3.
“Either party could certainly challenge and appeal that, and that was something that we thought was our right to do, as well as the NFLPA,” Goodell said on Tuesday. “So, we decided it was the right thing to do.”
As commissioner, Goodell had the power to hear the league’s appeal or name a designee. He went with the latter, designating Peter Harvey to the role on Aug. 4. Goodell said that he does not have a timeline for when Harvey will make his ruling.
Goodell was at a special meeting in Minneapolis on Tuesday that was called to allow for a vote on the sale of the Denver Broncos. Along with Watson and the Broncos, Goodell addressed the investigation into the Miami Dolphins about whether the organization violated NFL policies pertaining to integrity of play. The league announced on Aug. 2 that the Dolphins had to forfeit two draft picks, along with a suspension for team owner Stephen Ross.
“Integrity of the game's critically important,” Goodell said. “I think the finding was very clear on the tampering charges. While tanking clearly did not happen here, I think we all have to understand that our words and our actions have implications, can be interpreted and we have to be careful.”