Roger Goodell: Deflategate appeal not about Tom Brady

Roger Goodell insists the NFL's decision to appeal the Deflategate decision is not about anything personal involving Tom Brady.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

By Ricky Doyle

If you ask Roger Goodell, he’ll tell you it’s nothing personal against Tom Brady.

Goodell appeared Tuesday on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike in the Morning,” at which point the NFL commissioner discussed several topics, including Judge Richard Berman’s decision to vacate Brady’s four-game suspensionrelated to Deflategate and the league choosing to appeal that ruling.

It looks on the surface like the NFL is digging in against Brady for his alleged involvement in the New England Patriots’ under-inflated football scandal, but Goodell suggests that isn’t the case.

“This is about our rights in the collective bargaining agreement. That’s all it is.” Goodell said. “We filed this litigation initially to reinforce the fact that we had this right in our collective bargaining agreement. We had a decision from Judge Berman. We disagree with it. That’s what appeals courts are for.

“I’m not spending any time on this issue, but it is important for us to know what we bargained for and what we agreed to in our collective bargaining agreement and make sure that those processes that are agreed to in our collective bargaining agreement are followed. And so we are not going to allow that kind of a decision to stand when we think it’s in conflict with our collective bargaining agreement. That is the issue.

“It has nothing to do with any individual player or anyone else. It has something to do with Judge Berman’s decision, and that’s what we’re appealing.”

Fair enough. But does anyone really believe Goodell?

It’s also still fair to wonder how the NFL arrived at suspending Brady for four games when no such penalty for an equipment violation is spelled out anywhere, though Goodell tried his best Tuesday to justify the league’s punishment.

“These are NFL rules. These are not matters of law or in the legal system. These are rules that are established by the 32 clubs and are enforced evenly and fairly,” Goodell said. “That is something that’s part of the integrity of the game, and so from our standpoint we can’t articulate any specific way that these rules are going to be violated at any particular moment. That is a judgment that the commissioner makes, and/or his staff when you have those violations. That is certainly what was negotiated in the collective bargaining agreement and articulated very clearly with the commissioner’s authority.”

It’ll be interesting to see how things play out, but regardless, this season won’t be affected, as the appeals court isn’t scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case before February.

Brady and the Patriots could be celebrating their fifth Super Bowl title by then.

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