At an owners’ meeting in Minneapolis, Goodell spoke about the NFL’s appeal of the suspension granted to Watson last week by former federal judge Sue L. Robinson, the independent disciplinary officer co-appointed by the NFL and the NFL Players Association to adjudicate on the matter.

Robinson issued a six-game suspension for Watson. The NFL was seeking at least a season-long suspension. Goodell chose former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey to hear the NFL’s appeal.

When asked why the league keeps asking for a tougher punishment for Watson, Goodell said: “Because we’ve seen the evidence. (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.”

“These are things that we’ve always felt were really important for us to address in a responsible way,” Goodell continued.

Robinson ruled that Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy during private meetings with massage therapists while he was with the Houston Texans.

The former judge issued a 16-page ruling saying that no NFL player charged with nonviolent sexual misconduct, like Watson, has received a suspension of more than six games.

“While it may be entirely appropriate to discipline players more harshly for nonviolent sexual conduct, I do not think it is appropriate to do so without notice of the extraordinary change that this position portends for the NFL and its communities. players,” she wrote.

Watson has repeatedly denied the charges.

“I’ve never assaulted, never disrespected, and never harassed any woman in my life,” Watson said. “I have no regrets.”

Twenty-four civil lawsuits have been filed against Watson; 23 were settled confidentially. Two Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal charges.

A three-time Pro Bowler, Watson did not play last season with the Texans due to trade demand as well as investigations into those allegations.

Earlier this year, the Browns traded three first-round picks for Watson, then signed him to a five-year, fully guaranteed, $230 million deal, the most guaranteed money in NFL history.

CNN’s Steve Almasy contributed to this report.

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