Full text of Goodell’s letter to NFLPA regarding Tom Brady appeal

AP

On Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell rejected the NFLPA’s request that he recuse himself from hearing Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s appeal of the four-game suspension the league handed down last month as a result of the investigation into the use of deflated footballs in the AFC Championship game.

The full text of the letter that Goodell sent to the union appears below.

Our Collective Bargaining Agreement provides that “at his discretion,” the Commissioner may serve as hearing officer in “any appeal” involving conduct detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence in, the game of professional football.  I will exercise that discretion to hear Mr. Brady’s appeal.

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.

First, the NFLPA argues that I may not serve as hearing officer because Mr. Brady’s discipline letter was signed by NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent rather than by me.  I disagree.  The identity of the person who signed the disciplinary letter is irrelevant.  The signatory’s identity does not influence in any way my evaluation of the issues; any suggestion to the contrary defies common sense.  (I note that NFL executives other than the Commissioner have signed disciplinary letters in numerous proceedings in which the Commissioner or his designee later served as hearing officer.  I am not aware of any objections by the Union to that practice.  To the contrary, as Mr. Nash’s letter points out, the Union has confirmed its acceptance of this procedure.)

There can be no dispute that this is an appeal of Commissioner discipline:  As the letter signed by Mr. Vincent explains in its first sentence, “The Commissioner has authorized me to inform you of the discipline that, pursuant to his authority under Article 46 of the CBA, has been imposed upon you ….”  I did not delegate my disciplinary authority to Mr. Vincent; I concurred in his recommendation and authorized him to communicate to Mr. Brady the discipline imposed under my authority as Commissioner.

Even if there were a procedural issue raised by the identity of the signatory to a discipline letter that I authorized, no reason or logic — and certainly nothing in the CBA — would support recusal as the remedy.  After all, the CBA provides that “the Commissioner may serve as hearing officer in “any appeal” involving conduct detrimental to the integrity of the game.

Second, the NFLPA argues that recusal is required because it believes that I may be a “necessary” and/or “central” witness in the appeal proceeding.  I have carefully considered this argument and reject its premise.  I am not a necessary or even an appropriate witness, much less a “central witness” as the NFLPA contends.

I do not have any first-hand knowledge of any of the events at issue.  (That fact makes this matter very different from the Rice appeal, in which there was a fundamental dispute over what Mr. Rice told me in a meeting at the league office.)  Nor did I play a role in the investigation that led to Mr. Brady’s discipline.  Furthermore, there is no reasonable basis for dispute — or for any testimony — about authority for the discipline reflected in the letter signed by Mr. Vincent.  The letter itself is clear on this point.  And there is no basis for my testifying about prior instances in which discipline was considered or imposed for similar conduct; if that were the case, the NFLPA could seek my recusal in every conduct detrimental proceeding, directly contrary to our agreement that I have the “discretion” to hear “any” appeal.

Regardless, my knowledge of any underlying facts in this matter would not provide a basis for recusal.  The CBA contemplates such knowledge and expressly provides that the Commissioner may hear and decide “any” appeal of conduct detrimental discipline.

Accordingly, there is no basis upon which I could properly be asked to testify in the appeal proceeding, which under Article 46 of the CBA is designed to afford Mr. Brady an opportunity to bring new or additional facts or circumstances to my attention for consideration.

Third, the NFLPA argues that recusal is required because I have “prejudged” the matter and cannot fairly evaluate the potential testimony of league staff members.  After carefully considering this argument, I reject it.

The process by which discipline is imposed for conduct detrimental, and by which appeals of disciplinary decisions are heard, has been in place for many years and is well known to the parties. That includes the role of league staff in the proceedings and the likelihood that the Commissioner will have some knowledge of the underlying facts.

When the parties agreed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement to continue the provisions confirming the Commissioner’s “discretion” to hear “any” appeal of a player facing discipline for conduct detrimental, they clearly understood (a) that such appeals regularly involve testimony by league staff about the issues and events in dispute and (b) that if the Commissioner has taken some action against the player for conduct detrimental and given him notice of impending discipline, he necessarily would have reached an initial conclusion about the player’s actions.  Nonetheless, the parties’ agreement that the Commissioner may serve as hearing officer in “any appeal” could not be more clear.  Thus, neither of those two factors can serve as a basis for recusal.

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.  That is true even though the initial discipline decision was reached after extensive discussion and in reliance on the critical importance of protecting the integrity of the game.  As I have said publicly, I very much look forward to hearing from Mr. Brady and to considering any new information or evidence that he may bring to my attention.  My mind is open; there has been no “prejudgment” and no bias that warrants recusal.

I have considered the cases cited by the NFLPA, MorrisErving, and Hewitt.  I agree with Commissioner Tagliabue’s reasoning in the Bounty proceeding, in which he denied the NFLPA’s motion that he recuse himself.  Those cases are not applicable in an appeal governed by a collective bargaining agreement, especially one that so clearly reflects the parties’ intentions about the Commissioner’s authority, discretion, and role.  As Commissioner Tagliabue stated:  “No change in the Collective Bargaining Agreements between 1977 and the present day has ever abrogated the sole authority of the Commissioner to preside” in appeals involving discipline for conduct detrimental to the integrity of the game.  This recusal motion, and others like it, represent nothing more than an effort by the NFLPA to renegotiate Article 46 of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, signed in August 2011.

Because protecting the integrity of the game is the Commissioner’s most important responsibility, I decline to rewrite our Collective Bargaining Agreement to abrogate my authority and “discretion” to hear “any appeal” in a conduct detrimental proceeding.

The motion for recusal is denied. We will proceed with the hearing on June 23, as previously scheduled.

29 responses to “Full text of Goodell’s letter to NFLPA regarding Tom Brady appeal

  1. “theres nothing to deflategate”
    “we were framed by the colts”
    “jim irsay will be suspended”
    “no way brady knew anything”
    “the pats will never get in trouble for deflategate”
    “the wells report is fake”
    “no way Kraft accepts this he’s taking them to court”
    “no way Brady accepts this he’s taking them to court”
    “no way the 4 game suspension stands”

    “… um… Goodell should recuse himself”

    any more predictions from the new england astrisks fan club?

  2. xjippyx says:
    Jun 2, 2015 3:01 PM

    Too many words, just throw the book at him.

    —————–

    Unfortunately, that’s the attitude of the vast majority of media and fans in this whole sham.

  3. If you’re going to disagree with something in the future, don’t sign it in the present. This goes for players who sign a deal and aren’t happy with it a year later, and the NFLPA who sign a CBA and scream conspiracy when the commissioner exercises and explicit right within the document signed by both parties four years ago. I have no problem with this statement.

  4. This is just a formality, this is headed for court. Can’t see a scenario where the NFL isn’t completely embarrassed here.

  5. “any more predictions from the new england astrisks fan club”

    Everyone better look out next year, Brady is going to be angry and the Patriots are going to stomp everyone and go 19-0.

  6. So let’s get this right, Rog. You somehow agreed and concurred with Vincent’s analysis and disciplinary recommendations, and yet you have no first hand knowledge of the events at issue and didn’t make any prejudgments? Am I losing my mind? So you’re either blatantly admitting negligence by handing out your authority without looking at the matter being judged. Or you’re trying to lie to our faces with the use of big words and repeating the fact that you can hear ANY appeal you want. But honestly, you haven’t defeated any argument against your authority, you’ve helped it. Is Roger Goodell really so stupid that he cant see that by concurring with and authorizing Vincent, that he HAS made a prejudgment to the appeal. That prejudgment is the ORIGINAL PUNISHMENT. The fact that you supposedly haven’t looked at anything regarding deflategate (which is complete BS) only confirms the notion that you’re completely incompetent.

  7. “any more predictions from the new england astrisks fan club?”

    I predict that come September, the Patriots will be raising a banner as Super Bowl XLIX Champions.

    Suck on that, loser!

  8. moosey7195 says:
    Jun 2, 2015 3:39 PM
    So let’s get this right, Rog. You somehow agreed and concurred with Vincent’s analysis and disciplinary recommendations, and yet you have no first hand knowledge of the events at issue and didn’t make any prejudgments? Am I losing my mind? So you’re either blatantly admitting negligence by handing out your authority without looking at the matter being judged. Or you’re trying to lie to our faces with the use of big words and repeating the fact that you can hear ANY appeal you want. But honestly, you haven’t defeated any argument against your authority, you’ve helped it. Is Roger Goodell really so stupid that he cant see that by concurring with and authorizing Vincent, that he HAS made a prejudgment to the appeal. That prejudgment is the ORIGINAL PUNISHMENT. The fact that you supposedly haven’t looked at anything regarding deflategate (which is complete BS) only confirms the notion that you’re completely incompetent.
    ***********
    It isn’t a prejudgment when somebody else handles the review and decides on the punishment. Or is English not your first language?

  9. mikermiker, I have a prediction for you. Even after you and all of the losers out there handicap the Patriots by suspending Brady for a non-punishable offense, your team will be laying down on the field as the Patriots run away to their fifth Super Bowl victory. You and all of the mindless numbskulls in the world will be stuck watching another victory parade heading down Boylston Street, and Brady will be at the head of it, smiling and waving, while you clowns write your hatred from the safety of your own home. Sucks to be you, dude. GO PATS! Screw the rest of you!

  10. You can hate the Patriots for bona fide reasons, their qb, smug coach, constant winning, “spygate” etc. But if you give this made up, phony and invented “scandal” the time of day then you are a sheepish dunce.

    There is plenty to dispute anything at all happened. But even if, for the sake of argument, something did happen, it is hardly nefarious or having any affect on the game. Goodell say this as an opportunity to be a “law and order” man again after almost losing his job w Ray Rice. The Patriots were an easy target, of course.

    You may enjoy the Patriots squirming, but what happens next time when it’s your team being punished for arbitrary reasons to suit the Commish’s wanton desires. Goodell has ZERO integrity.

  11. dukeearl says:
    Jun 2, 2015 3:59 PM
    It isn’t a prejudgment when somebody else handles the review and decides on the punishment. Or is English not your first language?
    _______________________________

    The first 3 paragraphs of Goodell’s letter explain how Vincent has the authority to sign off on punishment because Goodell looked it over and allowed him to do it. Goodell goes on to completely contradict his entire first point by saying that he has no first hand knowledge of what happened and because of that he has made no prejudgments. If you can’t see how that is a contradiction or at the very least a gigantic problem, then it’s not my reading comprehension in need of help. The man is blatantly lying in his own response to the NFLPA and at the same time making their point for them. The union’s argument is that Vincent made this decision. By Goodell telling us that he has no first hand knowledge of deflategate and yet he still signed off on Vincent’s punishment, he proves their point. This only greatly questions the competence of a commissioner that would willingly ignore one of the most publicized scandals in his league’s history and then still have no qualms about handing out one of the biggest punishments in league history

  12. 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.

    ______________________

    Did I miss something? Didn’t the Patriots just get the biggest fine in league history for an average of 0.4% missing PSI?

    How can they get that fine if the commissioner is not wed to the reports conclusion or assessment of the facts?

    If your backing this fiasco and punishment just remember the monsters you created on the field (Patriots) and off the field (Goodell).

  13. Roger Goodell –
    “That fact makes this matter very different from the Rice appeal, in which there was a fundamental dispute over what Mr. Rice told me in a meeting at the league office.”

    Uh..No Roger….
    You also saw the first video (the one before the KO punch video)
    — Security cameras caught Rice pulling an apparently unconscious Janay Rice (nee Palmer) out of an elevator—

    After seeing this footage, you still defended Rice’s 2 game suspension.

    And what about this statement Roger-
    “We have to remain consistent. We can’t just make up the discipline?”

    You have absolutely NO CONSISTENCY and DO JUST MAKE UP THE DISCIPLINE.

  14. What the letter should have said: I am a clueless idiot who penalizes teams/players as I go along (and with no real evidence to support my penalties) and I’ve decided to resign from office before I further embarrass myself to the public. I greatly apologize for ruining the NFL. I hope no one will ever have to deal with my presence again. Sincerely yours, Roger Goodell

  15. Pretty soon you will hear Rodgers name on TV & Radio commercials.

    GIECO will be the first:

    Rodger Goodell is an IDIOT – ‘EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT’.

  16. Florio, thank you for improving your facts:

    “The full text of the letter that Goodell sent to the union appears below.”

    Emphasis on “sent” because he didn’t write it. The lawyers did. The Brady motion (written by his lawyers) was DOA.

    Goodell is just acting out a charade.

  17. Goodell has discretion to do whatever he wants in regards to this appeal. The notion he wants to hear from Brady and is not wedded to the findings of the Wells report is confusing Aren’t the report’s findings the basis for the punishment of the Patriots and Brady? Does he stand by Wells findings or not? If the report is compelling why say that in the letter to NFLPA at all? If Wells report is so compelling why not let a truly neutral arbitrator hear the appeal? The report should be enough to convict Brady, right, regardless of who hears the case?

  18. Yes, YES, let the butt hurt flow! I was having a rough day but after reading how hard Patriots fans have it I am grinning ear to ear.

    Brady cheated, this isn’t going to court, and the Patriots are going to finish in the bottom half of the NFC East next season.

    Sleep tight!

  19. swyrlpr says:
    Jun 3, 2015 1:03 AM

    Brady cheated, this isn’t going to court, and the Patriots are going to finish in the bottom half of the NFC East next season.

    ____

    NFC East?

  20. So, Brady had the ball boys DEFLATE the footballs to keep them within NFL Rule 17 of 12.5psi -13.5psi.

    Brady did this because the Refs were INFLATING the footballs outside of NFL Rule 17 to as high as 16.0psi.

    That means Brady has more INTEGRITY then Goodell, Vincent, Well$ and the Refs COMBINED.

    Goodell is an LIAR and so is everyone who sides with him.

  21. I truly think Foles will look very average in STL this season.
    Bradford’s the better overall talent and now plays for a coach that’ll get the very most out of him.

    I’m calling it now, a Jim-Plunkett-esque revival for Sam Bradford in Philly!

  22. New England And it’s fans have helped resurrect Roger Goodell’s stature,

    I didn’t think it was possible, but you idiots did it!

  23. Give Brady a token fine and lets move on
    If he did deflate balls so what
    Players put grease on jerseys and hold on each play come on

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