Whether New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will have his suspension upheld, reduced or vacated by the NFL is anyone's guess, but it is not unheard of for players to win appeals and get softer discipline.
Despite pushback from the NFL Players Assn., Commissioner Roger Goodell apparently intends on presiding over the appeal of Brady's four-game suspension.
The quarterback is accused of being "generally aware" that locker room staff members were deflating footballs during the AFC championship game, resulting in the Deflategate scandal.
"I look forward to hearing directly from Tom," Goodell said Wednesday at the league's spring owners meeting.
The decision by Patriots owner Robert Kraft to not appeal the team's Deflategate punishment -- a $1-million fine and being docked two draft picks -- has no bearing on Brady's fate, Goodell added.
"I admire and respect Robert," Goodell said. "This [decision] was his initiative and something he wanted to do, and I certainly admire the step he took."
Still, Brady could catch a break. Other NFL players have won appeals and received softer discipline.
In 2013, safety Dashon Goldson's one-game suspension for a helmet-to-helmet hit was reduced to a $100,000 fine after he won his appeal. That appeal was overseen by Matt Birk, an independent hearing officer.
That same year, Washington Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather had his two-game suspension for illegal hits reduced to one game after winning an appeal overseen by Ted Cottrell, an independent officer.
Last season, then-Detroit Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh had his one-game suspension for stepping on the leg of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers reduced to a $70,000 fine after winning his appeal, which was also overseen by Cottrell.
Goodell himself has chosen to dial down a star player's discipline at least once.
It wasn't an official appeal, but in 2010, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had his six-game suspension reduced to four games after meeting with Goodell. Roethlisberger, although not charged with a crime, was suspended for violating the league's personal conduct policy after being accused of sexual assault.
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