Roger Goodell (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodellexplained the league’s decision to appeal the six-game suspensiondirected at Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson followingallegations of sexual assault and misconduct during massage sessions.
“You may already know, it’s section of theCBA. Two parties had that right,” Goodell said Tuesday, per MarkMaske of the Washington Post. “And that has been a thing that we feltwas our to do, and also the NFLPA’s, and we decided it wasthe right move to make.”
Goodell also commented on the NFL’s continued effort to push for a full-season suspension regardless of the originalruling by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson.
“Because we’ve seen the data,” he said. “She (Robinson) was clear concerning the evidence. … Shereinforced the data that there [were] multiple violations here, plus they were egregious also it was predatory behavior.”
Watson faced 25 civil lawsuits with allegations linked to his actions toward women during massagesessions between March 2020 and March 2021.
Attorney Tony Buzbee, who representedwomen in civil cases against Watson and the Houston Texans, the quarterback’s former team, told ESPN’s John Barr there is one active lawsuitremaining contrary to the QB by July 31. There have been 23 settlements and something case wasdropped due to privacy concerns.
In mid-July, the Texans reachedconfidential settlements with 30 women linked to the allegationsagainst Watson.
Two Texas grand juries declined to filecriminal charges against Watson earlier this season.
Goodell may have heard theappeal himself but rather appointed former NJ attorneygeneral Peter C. Harvey to take care of the case. The league noted Harvey’sruling would be the “full, final and complete disposition of thedispute and you will be binding” to all or any parties.
No timetable for Harvey’s decision wasannounced, however the league expects an “expedited” appeal with the 2022regular season set to begin with in early September, per Jenny Vrentas andKen Belson of the NY Times.
Watson was traded to the Browns inMarch and proceeded to sign a completely guaranteed five-year, $230million contract extension.
The offer included a $690,000 base salary for 2022 to limit the financial impact of apotential season-long suspension. An “influential NFL person” told NBC Sports’ Peter King on Monday the league and another 31teams aren’t pleased with the “rigged” contract. Though, GM Andrew Berry defended the contract in March, arguing that it is common practice for the Browns to structure their handles a minimal base salary in the initial year.
Watson is permitted participate intraining camp and preseason games while awaiting the appeal ruling.
Jacoby Brissett, who’s the projected fill-in starter, Joshua Dobbs and JoshRosen will be the other quarterbacks on the Browns roster.