NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Tueaday that evidence against accused sexual assailant Deshaun Watson showed “predatory behavior” and “egregious” violations of league personal conduct policy.
Goodell explained his decision to push for at least a one-year ban against the Cleveland Browns quarterback after he was issued only a six-game suspension last week by NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson.
In civil lawsuits filed by 25 women, Watson was accused of sexual assault and misconduct during massage sessions between March 2020 and March 2021 while he was with the Houston Texans.
No criminal charges were brought against Watson, who has denied wrongdoing.
“We’ve seen the evidence,” Goodell said. “(Robinson) was very clear about the evidence, should we enforce 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.”
Robinson wrote that Watson engaged in conduct posing danger to the safety of another person that put the NFL’s integrity at risk, but said she was bound by standards from prior punishments in imposing only a six-game suspension upon Watson.
The NFL officially appealed Watson’s suspension and Goodell designated former New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey to rule on the appeal.
“We decided it was the right thing to do,” said Goodell, who said he had no timeline for when Harvey might rule.