In an expected move, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has declined the National Football League Players Association’s request that he recuse himself from Tom Brady’s appeal of the four-game suspension the league levied against him for his alleged role in Deflategate.
In denying the union’s request, Goodell had this to say:
“I have carefully reviewed the NFLPA’s recusal motion of May 19 as well as Mr. Nash’s response of May 22. (Neither party requested to be heard on the matter.) Based on the unambiguous language and structure of the CBA, as well as common sense, I conclude that none of the arguments advanced by the NFLPA has merit.”
The commissioner then focused on the rules of the collective bargaining agreement and NFL’s own bylaws:
“The CBA provides that ‘the Commissioner may serve as hearing officer in any appeal’ involving conduct detrimental to the integrity of the game.”
While Goodell is 100 percent correct in his stance, this provides the distinct possibility that the Brady appeal will go to court should the commissioner rule against the New England Patriots quarterback. There has been precedent set by the Missouri Supreme Court, which threw out Goodell’s power in arbitration matters, player appeals included.
In regards to whether he can stay neutral during this process, the much-maligned commissioner had this to say:
“Nor have I “prejudged” this appeal. I have publicly expressed my appreciation to Mr. Wells and his colleagues for their thorough and independent work. But that does not mean that I am wedded to their conclusions or to their assessment of the facts. Nor does it mean that, after considering the evidence and argument presented during the appeal, I may not reach a different conclusion about Mr. Brady’s conduct or the discipline imposed.”
As we have indicated in the past, Goodell is playing his hand here. He knows the union plans on challenging his power in court—power that he fully believes exists within the parameters of the collective bargaining agreement. Power that may in fact be questioned by the feds should this go to court.
Brady’s appeal is set to be heard on June 23.
Photo: USA Today Sports