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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson engaged in 'egregious' and 'predatory behavior'

Goodell says the NFL appealing Watson's six-game suspension for a tougher penalty was 'the right thing to do.'

MINNEAPOLIS — The Cleveland Browns remain in a holding pattern when it comes to the future availability of quarterback Deshaun Watson. 

Last week, the NFL appealed the six-game suspension that was handed down to Watson by former Federal Court Judge Sue L. Robinson after accusations of sexual assault and harassment by two dozen women in Texas. The NFL is reportedly seeking an indefinite suspension of at least one year for Watson and a fine around $8 million.

The appeal is being heard by former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey.

During the league's owners meeting in Minneapolis on Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said appealing the Watson suspension in favor of a harsher penalty is "the right thing to do."

"Because we've seen the evidence," Goodell explained as to why the league is pressing for a full-season suspension of Watson. "She (Robinson) was very clear about the evidence. She reinforced the evidence that there [were] multiple violations here. They were egregious and it was predatory behavior. Those were things we thought were always important for us to address in a way that's responsible."

While Watson has settled 23 of 24 the civil suits accusing him of sexual misconduct, the league's disciplinary process has focused on the allegations of four specific accusers.

Under the collective bargaining agreement, the appeal gave Goodell authority to enact a punishment, which he previously did under the old CBA. But Goodell instead chose Harvey, currently a partner at a law firm in New York, to hear the appeal.

Harvey has served as Goodell’s designee in other arbitrations, and he’s a member of the league’s Diversity Advisory Committee, created to improve racial and gender diversity across the NFL.

In 2017, Harvey was one of four members of an expert panel who reviewed the league’s domestic violence investigation into Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, who was suspended six games for violating the conduct policy.

The Associated Press' Rob Maaddi and 3News' Ben Axelrod contributed to this story.

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