NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday said the league is seeking a full-year suspension for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson because evidence suggests he committed multiple violations of the league’s personal conduct policy.
Watson, 26, was handed a six-game suspension last week by the league’s disciplinary officer, former Judge Sue L. Robinson, who mandated that the quarterback use only massage therapists appointed by his team for the remainder of his playing career.
Robinson also recommended in her report that Watson have “no adverse involvement with law enforcement and must not commit any additional violations” with the league’s personal conduct policy.”
“We’ve seen the evidence,” Goodell said at a press conference on Tuesday. “[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.”
The league officially appealed Robinson’s ruling on the matter a few days later, with Goodell appointing former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey to rule on the appeal on Watson’s suspension, according to NFL.com.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Goodell noted that the league’s right to appeal Robinson’s decision is outlined in its collective bargaining agreement (CBA), according to NFL.com.
“It’s a part of the CBA that two parties have the right,” Goodell told reporters. “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 [NFL Players Association]. So we decided it was the right thing to do.”
Watson and his legal counsel recently reached settlements with 23 of the 24 women who have filed lawsuits against the quarterback, accusing him of exposing himself, touching them with his penis or kissing them without their consent during scheduled appointments in 2020 and 2021.
The three-time Pro Bowl selection at quarterback sat out for most of the 2021 NFL season due to the ongoing allegations and was traded to the Cleveland Browns in March for multiple draft picks, signing a fully guaranteed contract with the team.
Two separate grand juries in Texas earlier this year declined to indict Watson on the sexual assault allegations, resulting in him not facing any criminal charges in those cases.
The Houston Texans, Watson’s former team, announced last month that they had reached confidential settlements with 30 women who have made claims that the organization enabled Watson’s behavior toward women in massage therapy appointments.
Watson and the NFLPA reportedly had plans to file a lawsuit against the league if he was suspended for a full season.
The Hill has reached out to the NFLPA and Cleveland Browns for comment.