NFL Wire News

Goodell will not recuse himself from Brady’s appeal

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The Sports Xchange

The NFL has rejected the NFL Players Association’s request that commissioner Roger Goodell recuse himself as the arbitrator in Tom Brady’s appeal of his four-game suspension stemming from Deflategate.

The NFLPA made the formal request for Goodell to recuse himself on Tuesday, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Friday that it was rejected by the league.

The league already had announced last week that Goodell would hear Brady’s appeal, which was filed on the same day by the NFLPA.

At the conclusion of the NFL owners’ spring meetings in San Francisco on Wednesday, Goodell would not comment on the specifics of Brady’s suspension or his appeal, but the commissioner said he looked forward to hearing from the New England Patriots quarterback.

When he returned to New York on Thursday, Goodell said he would give full consideration to the NFLPA’s formal request that he recuse himself from the Brady appeal.

Goodell said at the meetings that one of his primary responsibilities is upholding the integrity of the game, policies and procedures. Because the process negotiated with the union for appeals calls for Goodell to be the final authority, he said Wednesday that he was not prepared to remove himself from the matter.

“I’m not going to get into hypotheticals,” Goodell said earlier this week at his press conference. “I look forward to hearing directly from Tom. … I have great admiration and respect for Tom Brady. But the rules have to be enforced on a uniform basis. They apply to everybody in the league. … We put the game ahead of everything.”

Goodell will exercise his right under the league’s 2011 collective bargaining agreement to hear Brady’s case instead of either an independent or NFL-affiliated arbitrator.

The union called Goodell a “central witness in the appeal hearing,” adding that he is not impartial. The NFLPA wanted a neutral party to serve as an arbitrator.

“The players also believe that the Commissioner’s history of inconsistently issuing discipline against our players makes him ill-suited to hear this appeal in a fair-minded manner,” the NFLPA wrote Tuesday in a statement. “If the NFL believes the Ted Wells report has credibility because it is independent, then the NFL should embrace our request for an independent review.”

Goodell earlier had rejected the NFLPA’s request that an independent arbitrator hear the case.

The NFLPA released a letter last Friday that general counsel Tom DePaso sent to NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent.

DePaso informed Vincent in the letter that the NFLPA plans to call both Vincent and Goodell to testify in Brady’s appeal hearing regarding “the circumstances surrounding the purported delegation of disciplinary authority.”

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said Tuesday in San Francisco at the NFL owners’ meetings that the team would not appeal a $1 million fine and the loss of two draft selections — the 2016 first-round draft pick and 2017 fourth-round pick.

Brady was suspended for his role as the alleged ringleader of team equipment managers who intentionally lowered the air pressure in footballs. Brady did not fully cooperate with the NFL’s third-party investigation led by Ted Wells, according to a 243-page report outlining the offenses.

The Wells report released May 6 concluded that the Patriots “more probable than not” violated NFL rules and Brady “was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities” of the deflated game balls in the 45-7 AFC Championship Game victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

On Friday’s “Outside the Lines” on ESPN, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith was asked by host Bob Ley how likely it would be that the union would go to the courts before the appeal in an attempt to block Goodell.

Smith did not tip his hand with his response.

“It’s our job to make decisions about process that are in the best interest of the client,” Smith said.


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