Deflating footballs in the NFL is not restricted to the New England Patriots, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
On Tuesday, Schefter asserted his knowledge of two players from other teams that also deflated footballs last year, stating, “There was one punter that I know, or long snapper last year, that carried a paper clip with him into games, and deflated footballs before he snapped them during the games. There’s a backup quarterback that would deflate footballs for his starting quarterback.”
Schefter made sure to note that he didn’t want to excuse Tom Brady and the New England Patriots for Deflategate, but wanted to point out that the practice remains more common than people think.
Meanwhile, Brady spoke under oath at a 10-hour hearing considering the appeal of his four-game suspension. One source informed Schefter that Brady performed brilliantly at the NFL’s Park Avenue offices, stating, “Tom Brady’s greatest ally today was Tom Brady.” Another source said Brady gave “an A-plus performance.” Still other sources told Schechter that Brady offered a comprehensive defense in which he dealt with every issue that the NFL’s Wells Report offered as evidence of wrongdoing.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell attended the hearing despite a request from the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) that he recuse himself because of the difficulty of impartiality and the chance he might be called to testify. Goodell ignored the request, asserting that he was responsible for guarding the integrity of the league.
Patriots owner Bob Kraft, traveling in Israel with a group of Pro Football Hall of Famers, sent a sworn affidavit testifying to Brady’s character. One source told ESPN that the affidavit had “almost a holy feel to it.”
Brady’s attorney, Jeffrey Kessler, said, “I think we put in a very compelling case.” Brady’s appeal contended that the NFL’s findings about deflated footballs were inaccurate. The appeal, supported by the NFLPA, argued that NFL executive Troy Vincent had no right to order his four-game suspension, as that decision had to be made by Goodell, according to Article 46 of the league’s collective bargaining agreement. Goodell demurred, writing in a June 2 letter to the NFLPA, “I did not delegate my disciplinary authority to Mr. Vincent; I concurred in his recommendation and authorized him to communicate to Mr. Brady the discipline imposed under my authority as Commissioner. The identity of the person who signed the disciplinary letter is irrelevant.”
But this argument, maintaining that Goodell and not Vincent made the initial decision, calls into question the wisdom of Goodell sitting in judgment of his initial judgment.
If history can be cited to portend the outcome of Brady’s appeal, he stands a good chance of reducing his suspension. Other players suspended for acts far more severe have seen their suspensions reduced, including:
Jared Allen (2007): suspended four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy; an appeal reduced the suspension to two games;
Brandon Marshall (2008): suspended three games after a domestic violence arrest; the appeal reduced the suspension to one game;
Cedric Benson (2011): suspended three games for his misdemeanor assault cases; the appeal reduced the suspension to one game;
2012 and Bountygate: Jonathan Vilma (16 game suspension), Anthony Hargrove (eight games), Will Smith (four games) and Scott Fujita (three games). All suspensions eliminated on appeal.
Goodell’s decision may not arrive lightning fast. As Rachel Nichols of CNN points out, the commissioner still ponders a punishment appeal lodged in late May from Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy.