Yep, the NFL will be throwing the book at Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson.
On Tuesday, Commissioner Roger Goodell met with reporters in connection with the meeting held specifically for approving the sale of the Broncos. Goodell, who appointed Peter Harvey to handle the appeal of the six-game suspension imposed on Watson by Judge Sue L. Robinson, made his feelings clear about Watson’s misconduct.
Asked why the league is seeking a one-year suspension of Watson, Goodell provided a blunt and strong assessment.
“Because we’ve seen the evidence,” Goodell said, via James Palmer of NFL Network. “[Judge Robinson] was very clear about the evidence. . . that there were multiple violations here, and they were egregious an it was predatory behavior. Those are things that we always felt were important for us to address in a way that’s responsible.”
By rule, Judge Robinson’s factual findings are binding on the appeal process.
Goodell confirmed that the league believes Watson committed four different violations of the Personal Conduct Policy, since the facts pointed to four different massage therapists against whom Watson committed (as Judge Robinson put it) “non-violent sexual assault.”
And Goodell provided a frank assessment of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which allowed the league and/or the union to appeal Judge Robinson’s ruling.
“As you know, it’s part of the CBA that two parties had the right,” Goodell said. “Either party could certainly challenge and appeal that and that was something we thought was our right to do. . . . So we decided it was the right thing to do.”
The CBA allows Goodell to handle the appeal personally, or to designate someone else. Harvey, a lawyer who helped develop the current version of the Personal Conduct Policy and who has worked with the NFL on multiple cases as either an advisor or arbitrator, will surely do whatever Goodell wants Harvey to do, if (as it appears) Harvey values a relationship that, among other things, he uses in the marketing of his legal services to others.