Report: New England Patriots Could Also Appeal Team Punishment, Lawsuit Possible

By Andrea Hangst

While it was immediately taken as a given that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady would appeal the four-game suspension the NFL handed down on him on Monday for his role in the team’s deflated-football scandal—and he will, according to his agent, Don Yee, who also released a statement to that effect (via The Boston Globe), questions lingered about whether the Patriots organization would take a similar approach to the discipline the league doled out to them as well.

In addition to Brady’s suspension, the Patriots were docked two draft picks—their Round 1 selection in 2016 and their Round 4 pick in 2017—and fined $1 million, the highest team fine in NFL history. But according to the league office, the Patriots also have the right to appeal the decision much as Brady has the right to appeal his. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio says that, “Any appeal from the team would be handled by the Commissioner [Roger Goodell] or his designee.”

The Patriots and owner Bob Kraft—who himself is none too happy with the findings of the league and the subsequent punishments—could take things a step further. According to the’s Peter King, who appeared on CBS’ This Morning on Tuesday, that a lawsuit is not out of the question. King said, ”

I think when Bob Kraft went to bed last night, he went to bed a guy who was carefully weighing his options. I don’t think he’s made any decision right now about whether he will appeal,” King said. “My bet is that he will go rogue on this and my bet is that he will try to appeal this penalty in a court of law. There’s no way that he can appeal this as an owner, because owners just have to take the sanctions that the league sends down. He’d have to go outside the league.

Florio, however, does not see a lawsuit as a realistic recourse for Kraft, saying “Litigation filed by the Patriots remains an unlikely possibility, for a variety of reasons. For example, it would potentially alienate Kraft from his partners [the other 31 team owners], and it would set a bad precedent.” Florio did note, however, a potential that Kraft starts to push the other NFL owners to begin the process of finding a new commissioner.

No matter what direction the Patriots, as an organization, pursue in their response to the NFL’s punishment, one thing Florio pointed out is for certain: Things are going to be a little more than awkward next week when the NFL’s 32 owners, Kraft included, meet in San Francisco for this quarter’s owners’ meetings.

Photo: USA Today Sports