According to Ryan Smith of ABC News, New England Patriots superstar quarterback Tom Brady and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) plan to file a challenge in federal court if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell does not overturn the four-game suspension he handed Brady in the aftermath of the Deflategate investigation. Brady was suspended on May 11th following the month’s long probe conducted by independent investigator, Ted Wells, into whether or not Brady had knowledge of the plan to under-inflate footballs during last year’s AFC championship vs. the Indianapolis Colts. Wells concluded that Brady “was at least generally aware of… the release of air from Patriots game balls.” Brady for his part, refused to cooperate with the investigation. Goodell heard Brady’s appeal of the suspension on June 23rd, and a decision on the matter is expected sometime this week.
Many believe that because Goodell himself served as the arbitrator for Brady’s appeal, a ruling in the quarterback’s favor is unlikely. Going the federal court route may prove to be a more successful avenue following Minnesota federal judge David Doty’s February ruling in favor of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson received an indefinite suspension last season from Goodell after being arrested for allegedly beating his young child severely with a switch. Despite losing his NFL appeal in December, Peterson has been reinstated following the Doty’s ruling. Brady has maintained his innocence, and he reportedly testified under oath during last month’s appeal hearing. As a result of the Well’s report, the Patriots were also docked two draft picks and fined $1 million. The organization for the most part, receives little sympathy outside of its New England area fan base, largely due to having been caught up in a similar cheating scandal, known as “Spygate.” Following an investigation into that scandal, coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 and the organization docked another draft pick after evidence emerged that the coach authorized equipment crew to film opposing team’s practices.
Many who support Brady believe that the four game suspension was overly harsh, and more of a reaction to Brady’s failure to comply with the investigation rather than actual proof of his guilt. The NFL has acknowledged that other teams, including the Colts, have also doctored the inflation of footballs and the NFL has announced changes in who manages the balls before and during games. Former Quarterback Jeff Blake told reporters earlier this year that under-inflating footballs below league standards was common practice, and legendary NFL quarterback Joe Montana also acknowledged that his dynastic San Francisco 49ers team violated NFL rules on several occasions. Many sports fans and those within the NFL have criticized Goodell’s authoritarian-style dispensing of justice. He has issued many suspensions that have been perceived as arbitrary and inconsistent. Calls for his resignation have been strong and frequent over several issues since Goodell took the helm in 2006; however NFL revenues have increased by over 50 percent since Goodell took over, nearing $10 billion annually. This has kept him in good standing with NFL owners despite the controversies.
Boston.com – Chad Finn
SB Nation – Adam Stites
SI.com/ABC – SI Newswire/Ryan Smith