Tom Brady Suspension Upheld by NFL

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent III

Ben Margot/AP Images

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension has been upheld, despite his attempt to lessen the punishment at his appeal hearing June 23.

Continue for updates.


Kraft, Belichick Comment on Suspension

Wednesday, July 29

Patriots owner Robert Kraft laid into the league in a press conference Wednesday morning, per CBS Boston

“In light of yesterday’s league ruling, I felt it was important to make a statement today prior to the start of training camp,” Kraft said, noting it would be his final comment until the league process plays out. “The decision handed down by the league yesterday is unfathomable to me. It is routine for discipline in the NFL to be reduced upon appeal. In the vast majority of these cases, there is tangible and hard evidence of the infraction for which the the discipline is being imposed, and still the initial penalty gets reduced. Six months removed from the AFC Championship Game, the league still has no hard evidence of anybody doing anything to tamper with the PSI levels of footballs. I continue to believe and unequivocally support Tom Brady.

“I, first and foremost, need to apologize to our fans, because I truly believe what I did in May, given the actual evidence of the situation and the league’s history on such matters, would make it much easier for the league to exonerate Tom Brady. Unfortunately I was wrong.” 

Kraft went on to say he was "wrong to put my faith in the league," and that he regretted not taking the league to court. "Personally,” Kraft said, “this is very sad and disappointing to me.”

Belichick followed Kraft on the podium, and was less willing to talk about the scandal. "Robert took care of the other situation," Belichick said, per Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, "Tom had a statement. There's nothing to talk about there."


NFL Upholds Suspension in Full

Tuesday, July 28

Rand Getlin of NFL.com provided a statement from the league:

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe provided more information on Brady's destroyed cell phone: 

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"[The] NFL Players Association and the NFL have had an open line of communication in recent days regarding a potential settlement of Brady's four-game ban for his alleged role in the Deflategate scandal," reported Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo on July 27. Garafolo cited sources, who added:

With the clock ticking toward the Thursday start of the New England Patriots' training camp, the communication suggests NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his legal team would welcome a resolution that would include Brady and the NFLPA agreeing to forgo a lawsuit that could drag in to the regular season.

[...]

A source said Brady has become frustrated with the lack of a decision from Goodell. Surely the Patriots would also like to know whether it will be Brady or Jimmy Garoppolo under center when they open the season Sept. 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It's likely the NFL would still want Brady to serve some sort of suspension, while Brady's camp and the union would only accept a fine. Brady has staunchly maintained his innocence privately (and hasn't said much publicly), so it remains unlikely he would accept any settlement that includes sitting out any games.

On July 23, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com noted the NFLPA's offer was met by "silence" from the league. Graziano also reported that Brady is believed to be holding firm on refusing to accept any suspension that remains after his appeal.   


Ravens, Colts Owners Reportedly Wanted Brady's Suspension Upheld

Saturday, July 25

Tom E. Curran of CSN New England provided comments from ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, who said multiple owners were opposed to Brady's suspension being reduced:

[By reducing the suspension] you’re angering some of the hard-core owners out there. I know who they are and I’m gonna name ‘em right now: Jim Irsay of the Colts. Steve Bisciotti of the Ravens and others in the AFC who believe the Patriots have gotten away with murder for years and have not been publicly punished properly.

On July 20, Cole passed along the league's stance as it pertains to the four-game ban Brady received in the aftermath of Deflategate, saying the NFL believed it needed to have the suspension:

On July 24, Cole reported the league believed Brady would accept a reduced suspension after his appeal:

On July 22, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported a settlement wasn't out of the question for Brady:

A league source tells PFT that settlement discussions have indeed occurred.To date, no progress has been made toward a deal. While it remains possible that something could be worked out, it would be unexpected.

Per the source, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is being pushed by a small handful of influential owners to hold firm on the four-game suspension. 


NFLPA President Eric Winston Weighs in on Brady Appeal

Wednesday, July 22

Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk provided comments from Winston, who indicated the NFLPA was ready to keep fighting if Brady lost his appeal: 

It’s not even worth trying to guess what’s going on because it doesn’t seem like all the time that they know what’s going on. I hope they do the right thing, I hope they exonerate Tom and overturn his suspension, but if they don’t we’re prepared to take the next step, whatever that next step might be. But we can’t take that next step and we can’t go forward until a decision is made. Why it takes over a month, and why it took six months to get to that point before that, and the constant feet-dragging on not just Tom’s issue but all the issues is, to me, just seems a bit ridiculous and doesn’t serve the players very well. But that’s where we’re at now and we’re just going to have to continue to keep advocating for our players.

On July 15, Ryan Smith of ABC News initially revealed the NFL Players Association's plans to challenge the ruling in federal court following the appeal.

Albert Breer of NFL Network noted the union and Brady's lawyers plan to file a federal appeal in either Minnesota or Massachusetts. "The logic for the Brady strategy there ... is simple, Breer said." Go to a labor-friendly court (Minnesota) or home field (Massachusetts)." Breer pointed out that the union and Brady need to hang the threat of a lawsuit over the league, saying it "would make no sense not to."

ESPN.com reported that the union would focus on the ball-deflation policy being improperly applied, the "general awareness" standard used by Ted Wells in his report, the league's punishment being given without notice, the lack of proper techniques and standards for checking ball inflation, and Goodell's refusal to recuse himself from the appeal hearing when they brought the suit.


Cole: Text Messages Crucial to Upholding Brady Suspension

Thursday, June 25 

Cole reported the text messages between Brady and the Patriots' equipment managers were key to upholding the quarterback's punishment:


Brady Delivered Strong Appeal in 11-Hour Session

Wednesday, June 24

Drawing from what Schefter reported following the hearing, Brady acquitted himself quite well:

ESPN.com reported sources told Schefter the quarterback "came off as very genuine, earnest and persuasive, addressing every issue raised in the league-sanctioned Wells report during Tuesday's lengthy meeting."

One source called it "an A+ performance," according to Schefter.

Sports Illustrated's Michael McCann alluded to how much was at stake with Brady going under oath, per Schefter:

ESPN provided a graphic to illustrate the specific issues at play in the appeal hearing:

All of this stems from the controversy surrounding the AFC title game, which New England won against the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 before beating Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX.

The Patriots were subject to scrutiny for using deflated footballs in the Colts game, leading to a probe by independent investigator Ted Wells, whose final report concluded "it is more probable than not" that New England personnel deliberately deflated the footballs. Brady was thought to have an advantage over his Indianapolis counterpart Andrew Luck, since the balls Brady threw were easier to spin in wet field conditions.

Upon Brady receiving the four-game suspension as punishment for Deflategate, his agent, Don Yee, said, per Mike Reiss of ESPN, "I am very confident the Wells report will be exposed as an incredibly frail exercise in fact-finding and logic."

Garafolo reported Wells testified at the hearing but wouldn't comment any further. NFLPA counsel Jeffrey Kessler, who was Brady's attorney by appointment from the union, feels his side fared well.

"We put in a very compelling case, that's all I'll say," said Kessler, per USA Today's Lorenzo Reyes.

Reyes and his colleague Tom Pelissero compiled a more detailed report afterward, which featured inside information: "A person with knowledge of Brady's testimony said he stuck with the story he has told since the investigation began: that if there were any scheme to deflate footballs below permissible levels for January's AFC title rout of the Indianapolis Colts, he didn't know about it or order it."

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport supplied more context prior to Tuesday's hearing:

ESPN's Mike Greenberg weighed in on what Brady's strategy should have been:

And it does seem as though Brady did all he could to change the NFL's mind, despite the result.