NEW YORK (AP/WPRI) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league will appeal a federal judge’s ruling striking down Tom Brady’s four-game suspension in “Deflategate.”
Goodell said in a statement Thursday that it’s paramount to protect the integrity of the game and his office’s responsibilities under the collective bargaining agreement with players.
“We are grateful to Judge Berman for hearing this matter, but respectfully disagree with today’s decision. We will appeal today’s ruling in order to uphold the collectively bargained responsibility to protect the integrity of the game. The commissioner’s responsibility to secure the competitive fairness of our game is a paramount principle, and the league and our 32 clubs will continue to pursue a path to that end. While the legal phase of this process continues, we look forward to focusing on football and the opening of the regular season.”
–Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman criticized Goodell for dispensing “his own brand of industrial justice.”
The league spent more than $3 million for its investigation by high powered attorney Ted Wells, who had conducted probes for the NFL in the past. While Wells’ 243-page report found it was “more probable than not” that two Patriots ball handling employees deliberately released air from Patriots game balls at January’s 45-7 New England victory over the Indianapolis Colts, it cited no direct evidence that Brady knew about or authorized it.
Goodell, though, went beyond the initial investigation report, finding in late July as a result of testimony from Brady and others that the quarterback conspired with the ball handlers and tried to obstruct the league’s probe, including by destroying his cellphone.
The commissioner said he concluded Brady “knew about, approved of, consented to, and provided inducements and rewards” to ensure balls were deflated.
Berman attacked the league while questioning one of its lawyers at two hearings. He had repeatedly urged both sides to settle and tone down their rhetoric. At a hearing Monday attended by Brady and Goodell, the judge announced that both sides had “tried quite hard” to reach a deal. But the case was left for him to decide.