NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he felt the league needed to continue pushing for a year-long suspension for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson for “terrible behavior” and “predatory” against women.
Speaking at an owners meeting on Tuesday, Goodell discussed the league’s decision to appeal the six-game suspension granted to Watson by Sue L Robinson, a former federal judge appointed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association as the league’s independent disciplinary officer.
Robinson found Watson violated the league’s conduct policy after he was accused by two dozen women of assault or sexual harassment while he was playing for Houston. Watson has settled 23 of 24 lawsuits filed by the women, although she has denied wrongdoing.
The league has sought an indefinite suspension and fine for Watson, and felt Robinson’s six-match ban was not enough. Goodell cited collective bargaining agreements to empower the league to seek further discipline.
“Any party can certainly challenge and appeal and that is something we feel is our right to do as well as the NFLPA,” Goodell said. “So we decided it was the right thing to do.”
Watson’s fate is now in the hands of Peter C Harvey, the former New Jersey attorney general who was handpicked by Goodell to handle the appeal. Harvey previously worked as an arbiter on league cases.
Goodell said the league was pushing for a full-year sentence for Watson because of evidence against the 26-year-old, who was accused of sexually inappropriately with women during massage therapy sessions while with Texas in 2020 and 2021.
In his 16-page ruling, Robinson concluded Watson violated the league’s personal conduct policy with his conduct, using the words “terrible” and “predatory” to describe his actions.
Goodell was asked why the league is seeking tougher penalties.
“Because we’ve seen the evidence,” he said. “He [Robinson] very clear about the evidence. He’s corroborating the evidence, that there’s a lot of offense here and it’s horrific, and it’s predatory behavior. It’s always been something we feel is very important for us to address and in a responsible way.”
Goodell didn’t know when Harvey would make a decision. There’s no specific deadline for Harvey, but appeals policy requires it to be “sped up.” There is still the possibility that the two sides can reach a settlement.
While attending a meeting in Minnesota, Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam had little to say about the ongoing appeal. “We will respect and honor the process,” he told reporters
Meanwhile, Watson’s playing status for the Browns exhibition opener is unknown. Browns coach Kevin Stefanski did not reveal whether Watson would play in Friday’s game in Jacksonville. Stefanski said the team had a plan but he would not announce it until he told his players.
“We have a framework on how we are going to handle this pre-season,” he said. “As you know, you always have the right to change your mind based on how training goes and stuff like that, but we’re pretty confident in the plans we have.”
Stefanski said Watson would travel to Florida. The Pro Bowler has not played three times since 2020. He missed last season after demanding a swap and before the allegations came to light.
Cleveland’s plan was to start Jacoby Brissett while Watson served his suspension. But now maybe that will cover most, if not the entire season, there’s a chance the team could find another quarterback. Josh Rosen and Josh Dobbs are also on the Cleveland roster and are expected to get the most playing time during the exhibition season.
Goodell says Deshaun Watson deserves a year’s ban for ‘predatory behavior’ | Cleveland Browns
Source link Goodell says Deshaun Watson deserves a year’s ban for ‘predatory behavior’ | Cleveland Browns