Engulfed by lawyers, Tom Brady and Roger Goodell will face off Tuesday in the appeal summit regarding the quarterback’s four-game suspension the commissioner handed down in May for Brady’s role in Deflategate, and Ben Volin of the Boston Globe discusses how the sides will go about this procedure in New York.
One source informed Volin that Goodell only hears about 10% of these cases, and he delegated this responsibility for the recent appeals of Adrian Peterson, Josh Gordon and Greg Hardy. But with Brady serving as one of the faces of the league in the 21st century, Goodell will serve as the judge to determine whether his own judgment was justified.
Per Volin, around 12 people will be present in the meeting room: attorneys for both sides, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and Brady’s agent Don Yee will join the 16th-year quarterback and the 10th-year commissioner. Another source informed Volin that Goodell, while technically not on either side as the hearing officer in this setup, is “tame and usually fairly civil” in these circumstances. NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent and senior vice president of labor policy and government affairs Adolpho Birch could also be in the room.
“It’s kind of like a court of law, but it’s a private hearing; it’s confidential,” one source told Volin. “And the jury is Goodell.”
Goodell will ask questions during each presentation, reports Volin, but the NFL and the appealing contingent do not argue directly with each other despite the acrimony that’s transpired between representatives of each side during this historic offseason ordeal.
“There’s really no back-and-forth at the same time,” another source told Volin. “The appellant makes their case, then the league makes theirs, then the appellant gets to rebut it, then the league gets another chance, then both sides have closing arguments, and that’s pretty much it.”
While Brady obviously wants the entire suspension erased due to what he views is an exceedingly harsh punishment, one source told Volin the future Hall of Famer isn’t seeing any reduction, with the ban being “lenient” to begin with.
“He’s getting a suspension,” that source told Volin. “The only question is, is it four or two games?”
As previously noted, Brady’s side will have a chance to present new information in an attempt to reduce or eliminate his four-game ban, and Volin notes the Patriots quarterback’s team will cite the NFL’s operations manual which states a $25K fine is the baseline for a team that tampers with footballs (although Goodell has the jurisdiction to increase it as he sees fit). Volin also reports Brady’s side, in addition to possibly using the AEI report released last week that scrutinizes Ted Wells‘ investigation and potentially providing more information from Brady’s cellphone after he initially denied access to it, will use the fact that the Panthers and Vikings were issued only a warning for placing footballs near heaters during a December 2014 contest and Brett Favre being fined just $50K for a lack of cooperation in his 2010 scandal for improper text messaging.
The NFL will back Wells’ analysis and the ruling that Brady was “generally aware” of the alleged deflation procedures. Should the summit extend beyond Tuesday, it will resume Thursday, although there is no defined timeline for the decision to come down. Volin reports the Brady ruling may not emerge until the end of July, with Hardy’s May 28 appeal still in limbo as the latest example of the pace of these proceedings.
Brady, who can still file a federal lawsuit if this ruling doesn’t go his way, will lose $1.88MM if his four-game suspension is upheld.