BEREA, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – If the NFL wins their appeal, Deshaun Watson will not play football for the Cleveland Browns in 2022.
At the NFL’s owner’s meetings in Minneapolis Tuesday, commissioner Roger Goodell explained why the NFL remains steadfast in seeking an indefinite suspension of Watson with a year minimum.
“Because we’ve seen the evidence,” Goodell told reporters. “[Sue L. Robinson] was very clear about the evidence. She reinforced the evidence, that there was multiple violations here and they were egregious, and that it was predatory behavior.
“Those were always things we felt was really important for us to address and in a way that’s responsible.”
Robinson ruled that Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy in three ways – sexual assault as defined by the NFL, endangering another person, and compromising the integrity of the league.
The NFL appealed the six-game suspension imposed by Robinson after the NFLPA said prior to her findings being announced in a statement they would stand by her ruling, and they urged the league to do the same.
Goodell and the NFL felt strongly that six games was not severe enough considering the allegations against Watson as well as volume of lawsuits – 25 of them – that were filed against Watson, 23 of which have been settled and a 24th dropped because a judge ruled the plaintiffs could not shield their names.
“It’s part of the CBA. The two parties had that right,” Goodell said regarding the appeal. “Either party could certainly challenge and appeal that and that was something that we felt was our right to do as well as NFLPA so we decided it was the right thing to do.”
The Houston Texans quickly settled 30 lawsuits filed against them at the end of June accusing the team of enabling Watson’s inappropriate behavior, which included accusations of sexual misconduct during massage therapy appointments.
Robinson, who described Watson’s alleged behavior as “predatory,” noted in her findings that she believed Watson sought out the therapists under the guise of soliciting a professional service but had a “sexual purpose” instead.
Even more important to note, Goodell and the NFL do not view Watson’s league policy violations as one instance.
During the hearing with Robinson, the league presented allegations from four of the therapists in which Robinson ruled the evidence was sufficient enough to prove Watson was in violation of the policy.
“I think that’s the case with the facts,” Goodell said.
There is no timetable for the appeal, which is being handled by Goodell’s designee – former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey, to be completed.
The Browns acquired Watson in a trade with the Houston Texans for six draft picks, including three first rounders, before giving the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback a fully guaranteed $230 million contract.