NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell explained the league's decision to appeal the six-game suspension given to Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson following allegations of sexual assault and misconduct during massage sessions.
"As you know, it's part of the CBA. Two parties had that right," Goodell said Tuesday, per Mark Maske of the Washington Post. "And that was something that we felt was our right to do, as well as the NFLPA's, and we decided it was the right thing to do."
Goodell also commented on the NFL's continued effort to push for a full-season suspension despite the original ruling by disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson.
"Because we've seen the evidence," he said. "She (Robinson) was very clear about the evidence. ... She reinforced the evidence that there [were] multiple violations here, and they were egregious and it was predatory behavior."
Watson faced 25 civil lawsuits with allegations related to his actions toward women during massage sessions between March 2020 and March 2021.
Attorney Tony Buzbee, who represented women in civil cases against Watson and the Houston Texans, the quarterback's former team, told ESPN's John Barr there was one active lawsuit remaining against the QB as of July 31. There were 23 settlements and one case was dropped because of privacy concerns.
In mid-July, the Texans reached confidential settlements with 30 women related to the allegations against Watson.
Two Texas grand juries declined to file criminal charges against Watson earlier this year.
Goodell could have heard the appeal himself but instead appointed former New Jersey attorney general Peter C. Harvey to handle the case. The league noted Harvey's ruling will be the "full, final and complete disposition of the dispute and will be binding" to all parties.
No timetable for Harvey's decision was announced, but the league expects an "expedited" appeal with the 2022 regular season set to begin in early September, per Jenny Vrentas and Ken Belson of the New York Times.
Watson was traded to the Browns in March and proceeded to sign a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract extension.
The deal included a $690,000 base salary for 2022 to limit the financial impact of a potential season-long suspension. An "influential NFL person" told NBC Sports' Peter King on Monday the league and the other 31 teams aren't happy with the "rigged" contract. Though, GM Andrew Berry defended the contract in March, arguing that it's common practice for the Browns to structure their deals with a low base salary in the first year.
Watson is eligible to participate in training camp and preseason games while awaiting the appeal ruling.
Jacoby Brissett, who's the projected fill-in starter, Joshua Dobbs and Josh Rosen are the other quarterbacks on the Browns roster.