As expected, Commissioner Roger Goodell won’t be stepping aside from the appeal of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension. As suspected, Goodell may be trying to find a way to reduce the suspension by finding that Brady belatedly cooperated in full with the investigation.
“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,” Goodell wrote in his letter to the NFL Players Association. “My mind is open; there has been no ‘prejudgment’ and no bias that warrants recusal.”
Brady previously refused to provide text messages from his cell phone, even though investigator Ted Wells offered to allow Brady’s lawyer/agent Don Yee to harvest the information and surrender only the messages that are relevant to the situation, operating essentially on the honor system. If Yee does that now and delivers the stack of texts to Goodell, Goodell could find that Brady finally has cooperated in full with the investigation.
Given the (perhaps deliberately) vague language of the letter communicating Brady’s suspension, Goodell could then, for example, cut the suspension in half.
Brady could still fight a reduced suspension, through the appeal and beyond — realizing the two games has become the worst-case scenario but that the suspension could still shrink to zero through the machinations of the legal system.
The real question is whether Brady will take the bait, or whether he’ll continue to refuse to provide that “new information or evidence” to Goodell. Brady has nothing to lose by complying, unless of course the smoking gun that this case lacks lurks somewhere on his phone.