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NFLPA hopes Kraft pushes for neutral arbitration appeals


The Sports Xchange

The NFL Players Association hopes New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft pushes for neutral arbitration which would force commissioner Roger Goodell to delegate all appeals of player punishment to an outside party, according to Pro Football Talk.

For years, the NFLPA has lobbied for Goodell to permanently surrender his power to resolve appeals of discipline. Last year, significant gains were made in that regard, including the revised policy regarding performance-enhancing drugs.

Goodell continues to have final say over player punishment in other areas such as the power under the league’s personal-conduct policy.

Goodell holds the ultimate authority over the possible suspension of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for his role in Deflategate, although the commissioner said last week that “Troy Vincent and his team will consider what steps to take in light of the report.” Vincent is the NFL’s vice president of football operations.

The NFL released the 243-page Ted Wells report last Wednesday. The report 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 AFC Championship game.

All signs indicate Goodell is ready to announce this week — likely any day — a possible suspension for Brady.

According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, there is already a sense within NFLPA leadership that Kraft wants Goodell to delegate the decision to an outside party to resolve any appeals if there are suspensions.

Brady met with Wells, but he did not willingly reveal conversations, text messages and emails requested by the investigative team.

Wells found Brady and the Patriots’ equipment staff were all likely culpable in reducing the psi, mandated at 12.5 pounds, of 11 footballs in the January game against the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts brought the issue to the attention of the league, sparking a four-month investigation.

In his summary, Wells wrote about the irregularities in the footballs used in the game when the Patriots routed the Colts 45-7 to win the AFC title. The Patriots went on to beat the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in the Super Bowl.

The Patriots, Brady, locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski could be punished by the league.

If he is suspended, Brady would be the highest-profile NFL player ever to receive such a punishment in the 96-year history of the league.

The Patriots, as Super Bowl champions, open the 2015 NFL season against the Pittsburgh Steelers at New England on Thursday, Sept. 10.

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