From SpyGate to #DeflateGate to tampering allegations to two (and sometimes three) games per season, the Jets and Patriots have had a combustible relationship in recent years. Fittingly, a previously unknown chapter in the rivalry has made its way into the Tom Brady suspension litigation.
Paragraph 111 of the 54-page lawsuit filed Wednesday by the NFLPA elaborates on a point briefly addressed in the ruling from Commissioner Roger Goodell upholding the Brady discipline. In 2009, the NFL suspended a member of the Jets’ equipment for attempting “to use unapproved equipment to prep the K[icking] Balls” before a game against the Patriots.
As the NFLPA points out, the NFL did not investigate or discipline the Jets kicker for “general awareness” or specific involvement, even though the Jets kicker (like Brady in this case) was the player most likely to benefit from the behavior and, in turn, the player most likely to be aware of the conduct.
The NFLPA explains in its lawsuit that the decision not to investigate or discipline the Jets kicker “was perfectly consistent with the Competitive Integrity Policy’s application to Clubs, not players.”
So why suspend Brady under a policy that applies to teams and not players? At paragraph 108 of the lawsuit, the NFLPA claims that “a fine would not have quenched other NFL owners’ thirst for a more draconian penalty.”
The 54-page filing says nothing more about owners wanting a “more draconian penalty,” and no specific owners are named. Given the history between the Jets and Patriots, the NFLPA probably believes that one of them was Woody Johnson.