NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday that the “evidence” showing Deshaun Watson’s “predatory behavior” was behind the league’s appeal of a six-game suspension and their push for punishment of at least one year.
Goodell made the comments in Bloomington, Minn., where a special league meeting was held to vote on the sale of the Denver Broncos.
Goodell was asked why the league last week appealed the six-game suspension handed down by former judge and appointed NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson.
“We’ve seen the evidence, she was very clear about the evidence, she reinforced the evidence,” Goodell said. “There were multiple violations that 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.”
Robinson wrote that “the NFL carried its burden to prove … that Mr. Watson engaged in sexual assault.” However, she said the league “is attempting to impose a more dramatic shift in its culture without the benefit of fair notice to — and consistency of consequence for — those in the NFL subject to its policy.”
Goodell tabbed former New Jersey attorney general Peter Harvey to hear the league’s appeal. Goodell said Tuesday he had no timetable for a ruling, which will represent a “full, final and complete disposition of the dispute,” per the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
Goodell was also asked about the punishment handed down to Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, suspended and fined $1.5 million for “tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity.” The Dolphins forfeit a first-round pick in 2023 and a third-round selection in 2024.
Ross and the Dolphins were cleared of tanking, per ex-coach Brian Flores’ allegations. Instead, the league found that Ross and his executives were kidding.
“Integrity of the game’s critically important,” Goodell said Tuesday. “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.”
NFL owners approved the $4.65 billion sale of the Broncos to Walmart heir Rob Walton and the Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group.
–Field Level Media