Roger Goodell Tells Reporters Deshaun Watson Engaged in “Predatory Behavior”, League Wants One-Year Minimum Suspension

On Tuesday, Commissioner Roger Goodell found himself fielding questions about the Deshaun Watson suspension and the NFL’s appeal. Goodell made himself available to reporters at a meeting for approving the sale of the Broncos. But the topic quickly turned to Watson.

When asked why the league wants Watson’s suspension to be at least a year, Goodell had some strong statements to share.

“Because we have seen the evidence,” Goodell said, via James Palmer of NFL Network. “[Judge Robinson] was very clear about the evidence. . . that there were 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.”

Despite the NFLPA asking the league not to appeal the six-game suspension doled out by Judge Sue Robinson, Goodell felt it was only right to ask for a lengthier suspension. Robinson made some strong findings against Watson and in favor of the league.

“As you know, it’s part of the CBA that two parties had the right,” Goodell said. “Either party could certainly challenge and appeal that and that was something we thought was our right to do. . . . So we decided it was the right thing to do.”

While the CBA allows Goodell to oversee the appeal, he has instead decided to appoint former Attorney General Peter Harvey to handle the appeal of the six-game suspension.

Harvey helped create the Personal Conduct Policy and has worked with the NFL on other cases.

However, while Harvey can change the suspension to make it longer, he cannot change Judge Robinson’s factual findings. Robinson found that the NFL met its burden to prove that Watson more likely than not committed sexual assault against four women. Robinson called it non-violent in nature because the league never alleged that Watson used force. Robinson also found that Watson committed conduct detrimental to the integrity of the NFL and made the women feel in genuine danger for their safety and well-being.

Watson has settled almost all of the civil suits filed against him after more than two dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct. At least ten filed police complaints, but two Grand Juries declined to recommend criminal charges.

Watson signed a $230 million dollar deal with the Cleveland Browns but his first year he is only paid a base salary of around $1 million. The league has requested an indefinite, one-year suspension with no guarantee of reinstatement since the start of the arbitration process.