Goodell won't back down from hearing Brady appeal
New York — Roger Goodell will hear Tom Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension for his role in the deflated footballs scandal.
Goodell will not withdraw from what the commissioner considers his responsibility of hearing the appeal, according to several people with knowledge of the decision. Those people spoke on condition of anonymity because no official announcement has been made.
The union asked Goodell to remove himself from that role because it said he lacked impartiality and that Goodell would be called as a witness. NFL lawyers, however, have recommended to Goodell that he should not recuse himself.
No date has been set for the appeal, although the collective bargaining agreement calls for it to be heard within 10 days. However, both sides can agree on delaying a hearing, which would need to be held by Wednesday without any requested delays.
Brady was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 season after a league-sanctioned report by attorney Ted Wells found the New England quarterback "at least generally aware" of a scheme to illegally deflate footballs used in the AFC title game win over Indianapolis. On Wednesday at the spring owners meetings, Goodell said he was aware of the union's request but had not yet had time to examine it.
Since then, league lawyers were able to look it over and make their recommendation he remain on the case.
But it seemed clear Wednesday that he planned to oversee the appeal hearing.
"It's my job here to make sure we're doing everything to protect the integrity of the game, protect our policies, protect our procedures," Goodell said then. "We have a process that has been negotiated with the union that has been in place for decades. It's my responsibility and it's something that we've had in place for a long time."
Troy Vincent, the league's executive vice president of football operations, handed down the suspension to three-time Super Bowl MVP Brady, one of the sport's biggest stars. Vincent also fined the Patriots $1 million and stripped them of a first-round draft pick next year and a fourth-rounder in 2017.
On Tuesday, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, among the NFL's most powerful and influential men, said he will not appeal those penalties.
But Brady has hired attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who has taken on the league in a variety of other cases through the years, and could take his case to court should his punishment not be reduced after appeal.