Roger Goodell’s strong comments about Deshaun Watson could be used against NFL in federal court

NFL SPECIAL LEAGUE MEETING
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As the Miranda warnings explain, Anything you say can and will be used against you. That concept applies in plenty of other legal contexts and settings.

When it comes to the blunt, candid comments made by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday regarding Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, a question has emerged as to whether Goodell’s remarks will be repeated by the NFL Players Association in any eventual legal battle regarding the inevitable suspension imposed on Watson by appeals officer Peter Harvey.

Why wouldn’t they be? Goodell’s comments could be characterized as an effort to send a strong and clear message to Harvey, who surely wants to retain his relationship with the league and who will be inclined to give Goodell what Harvey thinks Goodell wants. Goodell is trying to tip the scales of in-house justice his way by making sure the judge knows what he who butters the judge’s bread would like to see happen.

That said, Harvey already knows what Goodell wants. The league consistently has been seeking a suspension of at least one calendar year in duration. As the preseason opener approaches and the prospect looms of Watson playing in an NFL game for the first time since the conclusion of the 2020 regular season, Harvey undoubtedly realizes that Goodell wants Watson to be blocked from doing so.

Goodell could have handled the appeal himself, ensuring that he’d get what he wants. But since he knows Harvey will give Goodell what he wants anyway, why not build in a layer of insulation if he knows he’ll get the same result he would have secured if he had done it himself?

“There were multiple violations here, and they were egregious an it was predatory behavior,” Goodell told reporters regarding Watson. Egregious. Predatory. How will Watson not be suspended for a full year?

Would it have made more sense for Goodell to say something like, “We’ll defer comment until the legal process ends”? Sure. But legal niceties must be balanced against P.R. realities. Beyond those Browns fans who struggle (and understandably so) to separate their rooting interests from the question of whether Watson has had a full and proper reckoning, most NFL fans want to see Watson suspended for a full year. Last week, a PFT Twitter poll that asked for the preferred length of suspension with the choices being six games, eight games, 12 games, and a full season, nearly 71 percent responded by selecting the longest duration.

The NFL is sensitive to this reality. Although some have accused the NFL of being overly concerned with optics, the entire Personal Conduct Policy is based on optics. The vast majority of American employers don’t (and shouldn’t) care about off-duty behavior. The NFL, with the agreement of the NFL Players Association, does. It has to. Fans who are expected to devote money and time to the product expect that action will be taken against players who misbehave, even when the misbehavior has nothing to do with the NFL. (Of course, in this case, Watson used his status as an NFL quarterback to secure massages that he tried to flip into sexual encounters. That will not help him on appeal.)

There’s an obvious disconnect between law and optics. It’s why four violations, within the four corners of the Personal Conduct Policy, become 24 (and up to 66) within the minds of anyone and everyone who has been paying attention. That’s another reason why the NFL will throw the book at Watson. The league knows it’s 24 (and up to 66). Harvey knows it, too. The federal judge who presides over the case, if/when there is one, will know it, too.

Maybe that’s why Goodell said what he said. Why he doesn’t care if his words are repeated in court as part of an argument that Harvey was partial or biased or whatever. Four is really 24, and is as many as 66. Everybody knows it. And it will be difficult for anyone to set it aside.

38 responses to “Roger Goodell’s strong comments about Deshaun Watson could be used against NFL in federal court

  1. At this point it’s common knowledge that Watson is a sexual predator. The league just needs to do the right thing.

  2. This seems dumb, didn’t he just repeat the words that Judge Sue Robinson used in her statement?

    If so, he has nothing to worry about. And if the NFLPA decides to keep supporting and defending someone who has publicly been classified with unremorseful predatory behavior by a former Judge, they are setting themselves up for a very bad look. That may be why they are already backing away from the case.

  3. This might be the first time the NFL (Goodell) is actually playing this one as smart as possible given the circumstances. Yes, yes – I know that’s an incredible long shot, but hear me out:

    First step: Initial suspension of 6 games from impartial judge. Everyone -EVERYONE – knows that’s a joke. NFLPA says “We will abide.”

    Second step: NFL appeals with clearly and publicly stated outrage from Goodell over the initial decision. PR wise, the NFL looks like “See – we’re tough on this kind of thing now. Our days of looking the other way are over!! We’ve grown a social conscience!!!” NFLPA is kind of silent because they are certainly not surprised.

    Third step: Harvey doubles the time (12 games) BUT adds a substantial fine (guessing 5 to 10 million). Goodell doubles down on the moral high ground (yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds) and says something like “Well, I’m not completely happy with this, but we will accept the decision.” NFLPA says “So will we.”

    Wink at the Browns, and they all head to Olive Garden for endless breadsticks and beer on Watson.

  4. Here’s what will happen if Watson appeals in court. The court will recognize they have already been down the road of questioning the discipline imposed by Goodell. It was already determined he can impose whatever discipline he sees fit. The courts aren’t going to involve themselves in this process again. It doesn’t matter if the court thinks it’s fair or unfair. It’s still up to Goodell.

  5. Roger, most fans are okay with the one year suspension but what we all want to see is the same standard being applied to the owners as well.

  6. It amazes me how the players and the NFLPA can say whatever they want, and no one bats an eye. But if Goodell, the NFL, a GM, or an owmer dare to say anything that may offend a player….suddenly the media and the NFLPA have their panties in a bunch.

  7. doesnt matter – the players union agreed to the terms and procedures for punishment. as such, the court, if they bring suit, should tell them to deal with it…and accept the 3rd party assigned to decide the appeal, PER WHAT THEY AGREED TO.

    We, as fans, want to see Watson suspended for a year…and that year be 2023 NOT 2022.

  8. Folks have committed on the fact the NFL/NFLPA arbitrator only used 4 cases and not all the cases. Many folks have speculated she did not use the rest of the cases because the cases had no merit. However, if the rest of the case had no merit, Watson’s team and the NFLPA would be making a huge case regarding it is just 4 cases, which they are not doing.

    A reason the NFL/NFLPA arbitrator may not have uses more than the 4 cases is the 4 cases was enough to suspend Watson without evaluating the rest of the cases, which would be a waste of time. If the 4 cases provided evidence of non-violent sexual assault, lying under oath, and violating the CBA Personal Conduct Code, why continue to waste time by evaluating additional evidence/testimony? The evidence with the 4 cases was enough to suspend Watson, hence the 6 games suspension.

    The NFL knows the evidence from these 4 cases is enough to suspend Watson and realizes 6 games was not enough of a suspension. If folks read the filings when the lawsuits were filed, like I did, folks would know Watson did some really egregious things. Yes, it is he said, she said, however just these 4 cases provided enough evidence for a suspension greater than 6 games, or the NFL would not have appealed the 6-game suspension. After all, the NFL wants it superstar players playing, not suspended. Why would the NFL want one of their superstar players suspended for more than 6 games? Surely the NFL would want one of their superstar players playing. The fact is the NFL knows what Watson is accused of is so bad that the suspension cannot be just 6 games.

    The NFL is going to drop the hammer on Watson.

    Cleveland is toast too!

  9. how close are they now to some sort of settlement ? got to believe that in everyone best interest…

  10. Ever since bountygate, then deflategate, exasperated by rice and Elliot, I have zero faith in NFL ever being about truth or justice. They just are pandering to public opinion. And it’s why I hope they lose every time and pray just once they get slapped in the face. Not the gentle Taglianue way, but like federal judge way. They don’t care about truth, just optics.

  11. Technically, the NFLPA made a big mistake by not appealing the 6 games suspension. It’s like they thought sexual assault with no violence was not sexual assault and they would get away with 6-12 games suspension. The NFLPA did not see that the wording of Judge Robinson was an open door to allow the NFL to get the 1 year they wanted with application afterwards for reinstatement. Watson is entirely at the mercy of the NFL and so is Haslam.

  12. minime says:
    August 11, 2022 at 9:59 am
    Goodell needs to keep his mouth shut.

    **********************

    Goodall is the owners’ mouthpiece. His purpose, pure and simply, is to deliver the owners’ positions. His mouth will rarely be shut, despite the fans’ and the MFLPA’s wishes.

  13. It’s already been shown that there is no point in Watson or the NFLPA taking this to court. When Brady tried to take his suspension to court for the debunked deflate gate nonsense, a judge first sided with Brady temporarily blocking the suspension as it was clear BS. However, on appeal, courts decided it did not matter what the NFL or Goodell decided to do, regardless of lack of any wrongdoing, as the CBA gave them power to do whatever they want. Doubt any judge or court will touch this.

  14. Right now they’re negotiating or else Harvey would of already came out after Goddell’s comments. If the initial was 12 and 10 million they can find a middle ground of 10 games, 10 million and counseling. Godell got ahead of it with his year statement but he doesn’t need the owners dirty laundry coming out, regardless if it does nothing to change the punishment.

  15. The league has the power to impose whatever punishment it wants, and the players association GAVE them that power when they agreed to the last CBA. Anything the Commissioner may have said was said by the authority who ultimately will decide the punishment, so how can that be construed as interference? That’s like saying a case that’s argued before a judge is compromised, because just before the judge issued their ruling they commented that the defendants actions were reprehensible. It’s a slam dunk here folks, and no appeal will be successful, because they have a legal binding agreement (the CBA), and so far they have abided by the steps and conditions outlined in that very CBA

  16. 71% of fans want Watson suspended for a year because they don’t want Watson helping the Browns beat their teams in the regular season or playoffs. All of these righteous warriors really are only concerned with wins and losses. After watching the league swoon over Roethlisberger last year like some sort of hero, it’s pretty hypocritical of the league to suddenly want to act like it has the moral high ground. Watson put himself in bad situations and made the league look bad, so he deserves a punishment. But the league admits he didn’t intimidate, attack, or coerce these women. The part that gets me is everyone is wanting him suspended when his base salary is only like $1million. I say six games and like a $30 million fine based on what he’d make next year. THAT will scare a lot of players straight.

  17. marthisdil says:
    August 11, 2022 at 10:16 am
    doesnt matter – the players union agreed to the terms and procedures for punishment. as such, the court, if they bring suit, should tell them to deal with it…and accept the 3rd party assigned to decide the appeal, PER WHAT THEY AGREED TO.

    We, as fans, want to see Watson suspended for a year…and that year be 2023 NOT 2022.
    ___________________________________________________________________________________________ Yes, yes we do. However, the Browns are clearly willing to do whatever it takes to make Watson happy with his contract and likely have a contingency contract in place to protect his pay if that were to happen. Barring an indefinite suspension that lasts for years he’s going to see a large portion of that contract.

  18. I think they should stop wasting time and let him play. We have worse characters in the nfl and the guy already lost a year !!
    Penance paid !!

  19. Union should’ve drawn the line at supporting and defending a sick and perverted sexual predator

  20. Could to suspend him every other game for two seasons? That would be pretty fun to see executed.

  21. marketgarden says:
    August 11, 2022 at 10:58 am
    71% of fans want Watson suspended for a year because they don’t want Watson helping the Browns beat their teams in the regular season or playoffs. All of these righteous warriors really are only concerned with wins and losses. After watching the league swoon over Roethlisberger last year like some sort of hero, it’s pretty hypocritical of the league to suddenly want to act like it has the moral high ground. Watson put himself in bad situations and made the league look bad, so he deserves a punishment. But the league admits he didn’t intimidate, attack, or coerce these women. The part that gets me is everyone is wanting him suspended when his base salary is only like $1million. I say six games and like a $30 million fine based on what he’d make next year. THAT will scare a lot of players straight.

    _______________________________________________________________________

    You are delusional. Nobody really cares what the Browns do as they could have prime TB 12 and would still screw it up. As for Watson, he has won nothing, Not going to save the Browns and in reality not even a top5 to 10 guy. He is Kirk Cousins in a nutshell. His stats were built by always playing catchup in losing games where they had to throw the ball against teams playing soft to prevent scoring. And he had better more stable coaching and one of the best WRs in the NFL. Browns with Watson will not make the playoffs.

  22. In the corporate world one being a predator would be gone period. A year is once more ignoring the glaring problem the NFL has of acting, they care about women and equality yet behind doors they ignore women by their non action.

  23. Will Deshaun survive the length of the contract before the next batch of accusations are revealed? A zebra doesnt change its stripes.

  24. Roger’s a lawyer, he knows better than anyone that it can be used against him. He may be a sleazeball but he is very good at posturing.

  25. If Watson is suspended for a full year then his contract is pushed back to begin in 2023. The Browns may secretly prefer this to a twelve game suspension.

  26. It’s been over a week now that the NFL appealed the decision to itself. There’s no hearing, no more testimony, no more evidence, just read the judge’s decision and do whatever you were going to do anyway…..so what exactly are they waiting for?

  27. I think we should wait until the outcome of the criminal trial before saying stupid things.

  28. The league stated their desired penalty before Goodell ever said this. And this statement from Goodell only reiterates what the “impartial” judge said and the Union didn’t appeal what she said. So, if there is legal action from Watson’s camp, it won’t go anywhere.

  29. All of this is stupid. This is what happens when you allow something to be played out in the media knowing the general publics reading skills are limited to “read headline, jump to extreme conclusion afterward.” If a twitter poll says something you best be sure the opposite is true.

    In this case the goal isn’t to punish Watson for what he did, it’s to punish Watson for what the general public believes he did thanks to the slimy lawyer that leaked unproven lies to the media for a year which are clearly two different things. Something that Sue Robinson pointed out in her report that the NFL is fond of doing. He’s guilty of sexual harassment, he deserves to be punished for that and only that. 8 games, a fine and mandatory female sensitivity training I believe is what the end result will be once the government gets involved. Something the NFL could have easily given him from day 1 without all of this but they wanted to grand stand.

  30. @mrfrosty…one thing for sure, most posters don’t know most of the details. Watson is a creepy horn-ball…does that mean he should lose his job?

  31. I wonder what Goodell has to say about his bosses’ equally egregious behavior?
    Dalrymple of the Cowboys filmed cheerleaders in their dressing room! Talk about predatory!

    I don’t think the NFL even investigated the Cowboys. Big surprise: Goodell did not want to go up against the most powerful and influential owner in the NFL. Shocking!

    What a two-faced coward.

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