The NFL Players Association has issued an appeal of Tom Brady’s four-game suspension on behalf of the Super Bowl MVP.
“Given the NFL’s history of inconsistency and arbitrary decisions in disciplinary matters, it is only fair that a neutral arbitrator hear this appeal,” the NFLPA announced. “If Ted Wells and the NFL believe, as their public comments stated, that the evidence in their report is ‘direct’ and ‘inculpatory,’ then they should be confident enough to present their case before someone who is truly independent.”
The league has until May 24 to schedule an appeal and perhaps name a neutral arbitrator as requested. The collective-bargaining agreement empowers the commissioner to hear such appeals, but, given the controversial nature of the case and the damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t task Roger Goodell faces, the unpopular commissioner may farm out the appeal as he farmed out the investigation. Such “neutral arbitrators,” as the NFLPA notes, don’t always see matters the way the NFL does. A former federal judge, for instance, threw out Ray Rice’s suspension after it jumped from two games to six, and then to an indefinite time period.
Brady’s suspension stems from pressure in the game balls used in the first half of the AFC Championship Game. Last week, Ted Wells, an investigator tasked by the NFL to look into the matter, found it “more probable than not” that Brady was “generally aware” of a scheme to deflate balls below the 12.5 psi minimum.
On Thursday, the New England Patriots, likely foreshadowing arguments the NFLPA plans to make on behalf of the four-time Super Bowl champion, released its own report on the Wells Report. The Patriots focused on Ted Wells’s decision to disregard the testimony of referee Walt Anderson that he used a specific gauge to test the balls before the AFC Championship Game.
“What is the consequence of rejecting Anderson’s statement that he used the Logo gauge pre-game?” the Patriots report asks. “The Ideal Gas Law, according to the League’s consultants, establishes that the psi of the Patriots footballs at halftime would have been 11.32 to 11.52 due solely to the temperature impact on the footballs. (pg. 113). With the Logo gauge, 8 of the 11 Patriots footballs are in the Ideal Gas Law range and the average of all 11 Patriots footballs was 11.49 — fully consistent with the Ideal Gas Law’s prediction of exactly what that psi would be.”