(June 24, 2015) – The hearing on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s appeal of his four-game suspension in the “Deflategate” case ended Tuesday evening after 10 hours.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell presided over the hearing despite a request from the NFL Players Association that he recuse himself.
Jeffrey Kessler, a lawyer for the players’ union, told reporters that Brady’s team made a “compelling case” and that the four-time Super Bowl champion was there until the “bitter end.”
Brady received a four-game suspension after a report for the NFL, prepared by New York attorney Ted Wells, determined it was “more probable than not” that the football star was involved in a scheme to deflate footballs below league standards in the January 18 AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The NFL confirmed earlier to CNN that Wells, whom the league hired as an independent investigator, would also attend the hearing.
If past appeals hearings are any indication, a ruling on the appeal will take several days, if not weeks.
Allegations that the investigator’s report was flawed
The key question at the hearing was whether Wells’ report was flawed and based on circumstantial evidence that was mischaracterized.
The NFL Players Association and some news reports have challenged the credibility of the report. After its release May 6, Brady’s agent, Don Yee, also was highly critical of its findings.
If the findings are upheld, Brady will have to serve the four-game suspension — the first four games of the 2015 regular season — without pay. Brady could take the case to court.
The New England Patriots organization “reluctantly” accepted the punishment handed down by the league. The team was fined $1 million, and it lost a 2016 first-round draft pick and a 2017 fourth-round pick as well.
Goodell has said the team’s acceptance of those penalties will not have a bearing on the outcome of Brady’s appeal.