Tom Brady and the NFL Players Association officially appealed the quarterback’s four-game suspension on Thursday, publishing earlier today the letter that was sent to Troy Vincent at NFL headquarters. However, so far, the Patriots remain undecided on whether or not to challenge the discipline handed down on the franchise, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, who notes that the team has until next Thursday, May 21, to file an appeal.
Prior to the announcement of the penalties levied against the Patriots in the wake of the Ted Wells Report, owner Robert Kraft indicated in a statement that he expected to accept the league’s ruling, even if he wasn’t happy with it — “fighting the league and extending this debate would prove to be futile,” Kraft wrote.
However, that statement was published well before the NFL announced that New England would lose two draft picks – its 2016 first-rounder as well as its 2017 fourth-rounder – and be fined $1MM. By all accounts, the Patriots organization was caught off guard and angered by the extent of the penalties handed down by the league, which were “unlike anything they expected.” That could prompt the team to challenge the NFL’s decision.
As Florio writes, the Patriots figure to take the full allotment of available time before making a decision, so we shouldn’t expect an appeal until next week, if one comes at all. As former Browns and Eagles executive Joe Banner observed (via Twitter), the Patriots’ Thursday response to the Wells Report may indicate that the club is unlikely to pursue legal action, since the Pats’ legal team wouldn’t have laid out its argument in advance.
Albert Breer of the NFL Network (Twitter link) noted this morning that the Patriots fighting the NFL on sanctions would be unusual, but not unprecedented, since Dallas and Washington fought cap-related penalties handed to them by the league in 2012. Following up on that thought, former Packers executive Andrew Brandt rightly pointed out (via Twitter) that this would be a different kind of appeal, since it would mean challenging conduct directly rather than appealing a “system” issue.