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Why did the NFL appeal the ruling on Cleveland Browns’ Deshaun Watson?

On Aug. 1, arbitrator Sue L. Robinson announced a six-game ban against Deshaun Watson, and two days later the NFL appealed the former judge’s decision.

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When former judge Sue L. Robinson reported that Deshaun Watson would only serve a six-game ban after the disciplinary hearing for allegations of sexual misconduct against the quarterback, the NFL appealed the decision seeking a larger penalty. Now Commissioner Roger Goodell has explained the move.

After a special league meeting to vote on the sale of the Denver Broncos held in Minneapolis, Goodell stated that the NFL was not satisfied with Robinson’s decision.

“We’ve seen the evidence. She [Robinson] was very clear about the evidence,” the commissioner explained. He said that proof pointed to multiple violations that were “egregious” and were instances of “predatory behavior”.

“Those are things that we always felt were important for us to address in a way that’s responsible,” said Goodell.

The NFL’s right to appeal

Twenty four women had filed cases against Watson for sexual assault or harassment during massage therapy sessions while he was still playing for the Houston Texans. The 26-year-old had denied any misconduct, but settled 23 of the lawsuits. Robinson ruled that he violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

Prior to the hearing, the league had been seeking an indefinite suspension and fine for Watson, so they felt that Robinson’s six-game ban wasn’t enough. Goodell cited the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association as the basis for the league to seek further discipline.

“Either party could certainly challenge and appeal that and that was something that we felt was our right to do as well as NFLPA,” Goodell said. “So we decided it was the right thing to do.”

The CBA allows Goodell himself, in the event of an appeal, to review the case or appoint a new independent arbitrator. In Watson’s case, the commissioner leaned toward designating former New Jersey attorney general Peter C. Harvey. No date has yet been set for Harvey’s decision, but it should not take long as the appeal process demands that coming to a ruling be made a priority.