NFLPA turns to federal court for help in Tom Brady case

Tom Brady addressed the New England Patriots' Deflategate scandal at a news conference Jan. 22.

Tom Brady addressed the New England Patriots’ Deflategate scandal at a news conference Jan. 22.

(Elise Amendola / Associated Press)

As expected, the NFL Players Assn. filed an appeal on behalf of Tom Brady on Wednesday, a day after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the four-game suspension of the New England Patriots quarterback.

The appeal was filed in U.S. District Court of Minnesota, where the players’ union has had success with Judge David S. Doty.

Shortly after Goodell upheld the original suspension he imposed, the NFL filed in federal court in Manhattan, asking a judge to affirm Goodell has the right under the labor agreement to hand out such discipline “for conduct that he determines is detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence in, the game of professional football.”


According to an NFLPA statement, the appeal is based on the following:

  • “There was no direct evidence in the Wells Report, so the discipline was based on a made up ‘general awareness’ standard to justify such absurd and unprecedented punishment.
  • Goodell delegated his disciplinary authority to Troy Vincent, violating our collective bargaining agreement, and then as the ‘arbitrator,’ he ruled on his own improper delegation, botching basic arbitration law and fundamental fairness.
  • A collectively bargained policy already exists regarding tampering with equipment that provides only for fines, not suspensions. Vincent ignored this policy when he issued his initial discipline. The policy that Vincent did apply to Brady only covers teams and team executives, not players. The NFL once again violated players’ right to advance notice of discipline to try to justify unprecedented punishment.
  • No player in NFL history has served a suspension for ‘non-cooperation’ or ‘obstruction.’ And, in this case, the evidence is paper-thin.
  • The appeals hearing held on June 23, 2015, defied any concept of fundamental fairness and violated the principles of our CBA.”

“The collective bargaining agreement provides procedures and guidelines for how the Commissioner conducts disciplinary hearings and the rules applicable to players. The NFL chose to violate these principles,” the union said in a written statement. “By pursuing this petition, our union is protecting the rights of Tom Brady and of every NFL player past, present and future.”
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