The NFL Players Association files an appeal on behalf of Tom Brady
NFL suspended Brady for four games
New England Patriots were also fined $1 million and lose draft picks
It’s official: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will fight the four-game suspension the NFL dealt him this week.
On behalf of Brady, the NFL Players Association filed an appeal Thursday, saying a neutral party should hear its argument.
“Given the NFL’s history of inconsistency and arbitrary decisions in disciplinary matters, it is only fair that a neutral arbitrator hear this appeal,” the association said in a statement.
But late Thursday, the league said that Commissioner Roger Goodell would rule on the matter.
“Commissioner Goodell will hear the appeal of Tom Brady’s suspension in accordance with the process agreed upon with the NFL Players Association in the 2011 collective bargaining agreement.”
The league has said the suspension is a fair punishment
The team was fined $1 million and will forfeit its first-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft and its fourth-round pick in the 2017 draft.
The appeal isn’t a surprise. Brady’s agent, Don Yee, had promised one on Monday when the National Football League suspended Brady for four games without pay. That move came after an investigation found that the Patriots used underinflated footballs for an advantage in last season’s AFC Championship game.
“The discipline is ridiculous and has no legitimate basis,” Yee said in a statement Monday.
“In my opinion, this outcome was predetermined; there was no fairness in the … investigation whatsoever,” he said. “There is no evidence that Tom directed footballs be set at pressures below the allowable limits.”
But a report by attorney Ted Wells, hired by the league to investigate the incident, found that Brady probably had at least a general knowledge about how the balls were deflated. The report points its finger at equipment assistant John Jastremski and the man who carried the balls from the officials locker room to the field, Jim McNally, as the likely perpetrators.
Brady, when interviewed, denied knowing about or being involved in the deflation efforts. He said recently at a public event that the team earned everything during its Super Bowl-winning season.
It isn’t clear exactly when his representatives will be making their case to the NFL.
Any appeal hearing will begin within 10 days of the league’s receipt of an appeal. Brady’s appeal would be heard by either NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or an officer of his choosing.
Patriots: Belief in Brady ‘has not wavered’
The Patriots are standing by their quarterback, calling the discipline one-sided.
“Tom Brady has our unconditional support,” the team said. “Our belief in him has not wavered.”
In its official response Monday, the organization said it continues to deny tampering with the balls but was willing to face any discipline handed down. But the team and Robert Kraft, Patriots chairman and CEO, said the sanctions announced by the NFL “far exceeded any reasonable expectation.”
Later in the week, an attorney for the Patriots published an extensive online rebuttal of the NFL’s finding in the case.
The rebuttal by Daniel L. Goldberg asserts, among other things, that the NFL’s report inappropriately dismissed scientific explanations as to why Patriots’ footballs would have naturally lost air during the January 18 AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots beat the Colts 45-7 en route to a Super Bowl XLIX victory.