Superstar quarterback Tom Brady made good on his threat to file a federal lawsuit if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did not overturn his four-game suspension over Brady’s supposed knowledge of wrongdoing in the “Deflategate” scandal. Goodell, who also served as the arbitrator in Brady’s June 23rd appeal in New York, upheld the suspension on Tuesday. The scandal comes after the Indianapolis Colts accused Brady and the New England Patriots of intentionally under inflating footballs during the Patriots blowout win in last year’s AFC Championship game. A report from independent investigator Ted Wells concluded that Brady “was at least generally aware of the release of air from Patriots game balls.” Goodell upheld the suspension after stating that new information came to light that “Mr. Brady instructed his assistant to destroy the cell phone that he had been using since early 2014, a period that included that AFC Championship Game and the initial weeks of the subsequent investigation,” he wrote in his final decision. This comes in light of other noted examples of Brady’s non-cooperation with the investigation.
Brady threatened the lawsuit about two weeks ago, according to ABC News’s Ryan Smith, citing the victory in U.S. District Court in Minnesota for Viking’s running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson was suspended indefinitely at the beginning of last season after being arrested for allegedly beating his young child severely with a wooden switch. Peterson’s December appeal was denied by the NFL; however Peterson won his federal suit in February and has since been reinstated by the league. Brady and many of his supporters believe that the quarterback would achieve a similar verdict, citing the often autocratic and inconsistent nature of Goodell’s disciplinary history. Brady’s behavior during the investigation, especially in light of the new allegations, may affect his chances however. The Patriots and Brady have repeatedly denied the accusations, and owner Robert Kraft has publicly feuded with Goodell over the decision. Kraft’s comments have likely fractured his usually cozy relationship with the league and Goodell, despite the team having been caught cheating before in 2007. The NFL fined the Patriots and forced them to forfeit draft picks for both scandals, the prior regarding the illegal filming of other teams’ practices that became known as “Spygate.”
Brady filed the suit late Wednesday night in Minnesota, hoping for the same fate with the court as Peterson. The NFL had already intercepted the move however, filing a motion to transfer the case to New York on Tuesday immediately after Goodell’s ruling.Minnesota Federal Judge Richard Kyle concurred with the NFL and agreed to have the case transferred to New York, the home of the NFL’s headquarters. Kyle wrote that he “sees little reason for this action to have been commenced in Minnesota at all.” He noted that Brady “plays in Massachusetts; the union is headquartered in Washington and the NFL in New York. The arbitration proceedings took place in New York and the award was issued in New York.” Lead attorney for Brady and the NFL’s player’s union, Jeffrey Kessler, said he was not concerned with the venue change. He said, “We are happy in any federal court, which unlike the arbitration before Goodell provides a neutral forum, and will now seek our injunction in the New York court.” Despite Kessler’s comments, the venue shift is thought to be considered a victory for the NFL in light of the Peterson ruling and the judge in that case, David Doty’s past history of favoring the players union in other cases. Judge Richard M. Berman will likely be the presiding judge over the case in New York Federal Court.
Boston Globe – Ben Volin
CBS Sports – Will Brinson
ESPN – Joe McDonald, Mike Reiss, and the Associated Press
NFL.com – Greg Rosenthal