NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday explained the league's decision to pursue a one-year suspension for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson and weighed in on the findings of an independent investigation into integrity of the game violations committed by the Dolphins.
Goodell told reporters that the evidence showed Watson committed multiple violations of the NFL's personal-conduct policy.
"We've seen the evidence," Goodell said following Tuesday's Special League Meeting in Minneapolis, which was called to allow for a vote on the sale of the Broncos. "[Disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson] was very clear about the evidence, should we enforce the evidence. That there was 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."
In issuing a six-game suspension for Watson on Aug. 1, Robinson wrote that Watson engaged in "sexual assault; conduct that poses a genuine danger to the safety and well-being of another person; and conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity of the NFL." Robinson, however, noted that she was "bound 'by standards of fairness and consistency of treatment among players similarly situated' " in her decision for a six-game suspension despite the NFL seeking a yearlong ban.
The NFL officially appealed Watson's suspension on Aug. 3, and Goodell later designated former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey to rule on the appeal. Goodell told reporters the right to appeal the decision is outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
"It's a part of the CBA that two parties have the right," Goodell said. "Either party could certainly challenge and appeal that and that was something that we thought was our right to do, as well as the NFLPA. So we decided it was the right thing to do."
Goodell added that he does not have a timeline for a decision from Harvey.
Goodell also was asked for his reaction to the investigation into the Dolphins organization. The NFL announced on Aug. 2 that the team will forfeit its 2023 first-round draft pick and 2024 third-round pick, and that team owner Stephen Ross has been suspended through Oct. 17.
"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."
Additionally, Goodell told reporters that he did not have any additional information regarding Commanders owner Daniel Snyder's virtual testimony before Congress on July 28 as part of the House's investigation into the Washington franchise's workplace culture.
"We were not party to that. We did not participate in any way," Goodell said. "So I don't have any other information that you don't have on that context. As far as his status, as we all know there's an ongoing congressional investigation as well as our investigation into those issues. As we get to a resolution on that Dan and I will discuss where he participates."