Vincent admits Brady was disciplined under policy not given to players

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While basic P.R. concerns prevent the NFLPA from putting it this way, the primary argument against the suspension of Tom Brady is that, even if he did what he’s accused of doing, he can’t be suspended for it.

As to Brady’s alleged “general awareness” that one or more Patriots employees were deflating footballs, the NFLPA argues that the discipline was imposed under a policy that is not distributed to players. Which, as a matter of basic labor law, prevents the NFL from disciplining Brady for any violations of the policy.

The transcript of Brady’s appeal hearing includes admissions from executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent that prove these two key points.

“Where do you find the policy that says footballs can’t be altered with respect to pressure? Is that going to be in the competitive integrity policy that Mr. Wells cited in his report?” attorney Jeffrey Kessler asked Vincent.

“Game-Day Operations Manual,” Vincent said.

“Is it correct, to your knowledge, that the manual is given to clubs and GMs and owners, et cetera, but the manual is not given out to players; is that correct, to your knowledge?” Kessler said.

“That’s correct, to my knowledge,” Vincent said.

“In fact, when you were a player, you were never given that manual, right?”

“No,” Vincent said.

Earlier in the hearing, Brady testified he never received a copy of the Competitive Integrity Policy.

While the NFL will argue that Brady was disciplined generally for conduct detrimental to the integrity of the game (indeed, that was the specific conclusion reached in the appeal ruling), the NFLPA will argue that labor law requires much more specificity and, fundamentally, notice as to what is prohibited.

By way of comparison, if a player were deliberately and intentionally using stickum, he arguably would be engaging in conduct detrimental to the integrity of the game, he’d be subject to only a fine, because the negotiated fine schedule allows a fine of $8,681 for having a foreign substance on the body or uniform. And other equipment or uniform violations result in a fine of only $5,787 for a first offense.

The NFL hasn’t secured via collective bargaining the ability to impose a suspension for these types of “cheating” violations, even when the player is personally committing the offense. More importantly, the NFL hasn’t informed players that they can be suspended for such behavior.

That alone, in the opinion of the NFLPA, will keep Brady from being suspended. The real question is whether Judge Richard M. Berman disagrees.

91 responses to “Vincent admits Brady was disciplined under policy not given to players

  1. Would that even apply to the stickum example? He didn’t deflate the balls himself and if he (allegedly) was generally aware that team officials were doing this and was not aware it was illegal, shouldn’t the equipment guys be at fault — granted they were fired.

  2. What about the fact that the NFL still doesn’t have any direct evidence that Brady did anything wrong. Being “general aware” is not a policy or rules violation as far as I know. Why would Brady settle for anything except a complete exoneration and an apology from Goodell, Kensil, Vincent and anyone else involved in this 6 month charade.

  3. It seems like there is great opportunity for the next CBA to find ways to not only protect and promote the integrity of the game, but to also increase the supply of money for players, owners, and members of the league that do a good job and play by the rules.

  4. stickum? like jerry rice? or when the houston texans deflated footballs in 2006? or when the jets got fined for a ball violation in 09 with no investigation?

  5. The Patriots are getting screwed one way or the other. There is absolutely no chance the Pats win the Super Bowl in this or any season in the near future. Goodell simply wont allow it. Whether the suspension gets overturned or not, the past few months have shown that the corruption in the NFL knows no bounds and that any Patriots playoff games will be fixed far beyond anything David Stern did with the 2002 Lakers/Kings series. I honestly wouldnt put it past Goodell to name himself and Mike Kensil as the head officials for the next Patriots playoff game and call subjective fouls on the Pats every other play.

    As a Pats fan… I almost want to see it. Might be the only way to get Goodell fired.

  6. Matt Birk can’t be running this show fast enough.

    Goodell, the door is over there. Otherwise, the floor will drop out into a pool of sharks.

  7. I think the problem here is not the crime but the cover up….if Brady did know about the deflated balls. which obviously he denies, but if he did why does he keep lying about it..? why does he keep denying he was involved…it’s also obvious we all know he didn’t deflate any balls, nor the coach, nor the owner…so the only guilty person or persons were the ball handlers, and they are the only one’s not being investigated? don’t make sense…why did they fired them? if Patriots claim they are innocent from any wrongdoing? Why was one called The Deflator? (and no I don’t buy the weight bit) why did he go into the bathroom with bag full of balls, and locked himself in for a minute and half? but my main concern is where are they now? why can’t they be interrogated anymore? a lot of unanswered questions…but in my opinion Brady did know, why did it take somebody else other then the Patriots to notice a deflated ball? oh well,….what ever not my team anyways..

  8. As I expected, what you’re saying is, the Labor Agreement will have more to do with “guilt or innocence” then does the actual case itself, which probably will NOT be under review.

    This will come down the Labor Agreement in force at the time of the incident and did or did not the NFL give Tom Brady a fair hearing. See: Adrian Peterson, et al.

  9. Putting everything else aside, that would seem to be the most important point of the NFLPA , in addition to the case not being fairly arbitrated by Goodell.

    I’m confused on another point.
    Vincent said the first time he heard about any concern was with some time remaining in the 2nd quarter?
    He also says that Grigson went up to him and Kensil and said
    “We are playing with small balls”, and then he and Kensil acted.
    So Vincent had no sense of anything unusual, sitting there watching the game and instantly knew what Grigson meant by that 1 sentence?

  10. Wow….. the nfl is a complete and total joke. Corrupt and incompetent from the liars at the top to the fools at the bottom.

  11. You will not be getting a Christmas card from the Goodell family this year. The more layers get pulled back the more arrogant Goodell is coming off.

  12. Additionally, nobody ever accused Brady of tampering with anything. The Wells report didn’t even have a finding as to whether or not he ordered or directed any deflation, only that it’s more probable than not that he was generally aware. Has a player ever been investigated due to being aware of someone else doing something? If a teammate took PEDs, does the NFL investigate if any other players were probably generally aware of it and does it suspend them four games for it?

    The Wells report is garbage. Their conclusions are garbage based on no evidence of anything…and not even the Wells report says that Brady did anything wrong. Free Brady.

  13. You’re joking right? I don’t read every law but I know stealing is wrong. He helped change the rule LMAO. More bias

  14. Seriously his argument is,’it doesn’t say anywhere you can’t deflate footballs.’ Really!!?! You can’t take a gun on the field either…even if it’s not loaded…don’t think we need it in writing. YOU CHEATED!

  15. You go to work tomorrow. You are suspended without pay for 3 months (25%) of the season (yr).

    It gets better. You are labeled a liar and a cheat at your chosen profession.

    Because some dick decides it more probable than not you violated a rule your employer never disclosed.

    Welcome to the world of NFL jurisprudence.

  16. Its an amazing world where you can make an argument that you shouldnt be suspended for tampering with gameday equipment because you werent told you shouldnt do that. Seriously, you have to be told that you cant mess with equipment and alter it. Where the hell did common sense go?

  17. It’s obvious the NFL office has been making things up as they go along. Kraft had to take it, because his partnership agreement gives him no choice. Brady doesn’t have to take it and his union has a contract that says just that.

  18. “In fact, when you were a player, you were never given that manual, right?”

    “No,” Vincent said.

    So…no? It’s not right? He *was* given that manual?

    Perhaps if TMZ were to release the video of the hearing so we could get the proper context of the extremely limited amount of text that we’re being force-fed by the media.

  19. I’m not sure who’s apology I’m most excited for.

    Goodell? Kensil? Pash? Vincent?

    Brunnell? Bettis? Aikman?

    Oh man, the combination of Goodell finally getting fired, and the tail-between-the-legs apologies these guys are gonna have to give…may make this whole ordeal worth it.

  20. NFL office just running a witch hunt like we have said from the start. How the MFL has been able to drag this out this long only stinks of conspiracy that runs all the way to the top man named Goodell

  21. If the NFL is worried about the “integrity of the game,” why did they allow the first half of the AFL championship game between the Patriots and Colts to be played with footballs they SUSPECTED were deflated below the legal limit for the first half of the game?

    How does this action not jeopardize the “integretity of the game” they claim to be so anxious to protect?

  22. Roger Goodell is becoming a bigger embarrassment to the NFL than Donald Trump is to, well, mankind in general.

    What’s the over/under that Tom Brady ultimately pays a fine with no suspension?

  23. “…the NFL will argue that Brady was disciplined generally for conduct detrimental to the integrity of the game (indeed, that was the specific conclusion reached in the appeal ruling)”
    ___________________________

    No matter what said or transpired by the witnesses or the evidence (or lack of), that was a forgone conclusion. Preordained by Führer Goodell.

  24. If any NFL player needs to be told that it’s against the fair competitive nature of the game to alter ball pressure in order to gain a competitive advantage without anybody knowing because it was done in a clandestine manner and the same option isn’t available to the other team clearly isn’t smart enough to play in the NFL, nor are they smart enough to procreate and should be sterilized. This is asinine to debate. Everybody knows that if you break rules in order to gain an advantage, it’s cheating, regardless of them being provided with an explicit violation. The rule book to Battleship doesn’t say anything about moving the placement of your ships in the middle of the game is cheating, yet we all know that it is cheating. However, by Troy Vincent’s logic, we’re now allowed to move our battleship placements mid-game because the rule book doesn’t explicitly say that it’s against the rules, regardless of the fact that everybody knows that it’s cheating.

  25. Sorry CRYBABY NATION that’s just more bad news for the NFL.

    from Mike Mccan

    @McCannSportsLaw: Tom Brady’s transcript may be just enough for him to beat NFL in court. My @SInow legal take:

    So his transcripts ALONE should be enough for Brady to win.

  26. Precisely why Roger Dodger loses again. They should back off the suspension and negotiiate a fine for non cooperation even though Wells never told brady he would be punished for it. Precedent is for a 50k fine like the one handed to Fahvrah!!

  27. So allllllll you small peni haters out there,,,take that and swallow it! Just on the basis of this alone, Brady will be playing on opening night…Goodell should have accepted the Brady offer of a small fine and no games…now him and his minions will walk away with an empty freaking PLATE,,,as they should….and BTW,,,PISSING OFF BRADY…a very baaaaaad thing to do,,,I’m telling you…wait and see,,,he will run up the score in every freaking game this year…betcha betcha

  28. If the judge agrees with that, I think just about everyone can go away happy.

    Brady gets away without a suspension.
    Patriots fans get to call the league office a bunch of slappies.
    Opposing fans and Mike Kensil still get to call Brady a cheater who skated on a technicality.
    Goodell gets to pass the buck onto Troy Vincent.
    Vincent gets to pass the buck onto the appeals process.
    (Yes, how like the league office to not accept direct responsibility, right?)
    Maybe Wells takes some heat, but he can fan himself off with $3,000,000.

    If you thumbs-down this, then clearly you want more Deflategate and less football, and I just feel bad for you at this point.

  29. As the story continues to unfold many things are evident. Brady liked the balls at the minimum. He instructed his equipment guys to do so. After officials in a game against the Jets over-inflated the balls he included in his instructions to his equip guys a note to the refs dictating the pressure he liked. So far nothing nefarious here. There is no evidence of any instruction to inflate to less than 12.5 PSI and none to prove anyone adjusted the pressure after the refs checked the balls.

    Now look at the other side of the equation. Troy Vincent used to be a player, now he resides on the management side of the discussion. It is obvious by this comment and the Aaron Rogers comment that different standards are being used for different players and teams. Look at Goddell, I truly believe he did not want this to occur but it is his fault he has surrounded himself with individuals whose hatred for and quest to discredit the Patriots is so great that they forgo all of the rules, let common sense fall by the wayside, and basically lose their ability to cognitively assess a situation before proceeding. I hope it goes tp court goes to court and Brady’s team subpeonas all of the texts, notes, and emails between Kensil, Pash, Gardi, Goodell, Wells, etc… After Brady wins I hope he sues the NFL for defamation of character and wins. I hope with the money he wins he buys property surrounding the homes of all of these idiots and rents them all to Pats fans.

  30. It appears that Vincent, knowingly made a ruling and issued a suspension that he knew was improper.

    Why?

    Because Roger Goodell told him to do it anyway.

    And Roger served as the arbitrator to uphold the penalty that he ordered.

    His decision was fair and impartial – not…

  31. After comparing transcripts of the appeal vs transcripts of the NFL’s 20 page ruling two things are perfectly clear: It was not Roger Goodell who upheld the suspension nor wrote the 20 page ruling.

    The decision to uphold the suspension was clearly made by Reisner and Pash. Both lawyers have a huge emotional investment to get Brady.

    It’s also clear the 20 page ruling was written entirely by attorneys and not that buffoon Roger Goodell. Roger continually made a fool oh himself during the appeal.

    #FreeBrady

  32. The NFL is like a stubborn little kid on this whole thing. Like we don’t care we’re gonna suspend you anyways cuz that’s what we said before and we’re right. Goodell should be fired over this, it’s got to be such an embarrassment for the league as these details Supporting Brady and the Patriots have been coming out for months now yet the NFL is stubbornly holding their position for literally no reason

  33. Vincent starting to look like a fool. Brady’s suspension should of beem before the super bowl during the season he deflated the balls. This season it will another way to bend or stretch the rules to Patriot fans when everyone else calls it cheating.

  34. Seems a easy ruling. Punishing any single employee for general knowledge of a wrongdoing should not be possible in any business. Regardless of whether you believe he was aware or not. The entire team benefitted from the alleged rules infraction, so how can you single out one employee and Tom Brady is an employee… logically, if this infraction is really legit, the center snapped every play, so he was generally aware, the receivers that caught balls were generally aware, seems the NFL referees that handle the ball every down “should” have also been generally aware and so how do you decide to punish one single employee? And you do so arbitrarily since no policy is in place for this alleged infraction…

  35. What a joke the NFL office has made of itself. A fine of 25k would have been sufficient from the get go. But no, Rodger had to make an example of someone just to redeem himself from Ray Rice fiasco.

  36. I say let Brady off the hook (everyone knows he cheated by now) and let Bountygate II begin. That way the opposing defenses can communicate to Brady how they feel about cheaters.

  37. Cheating will likely follow the “porn” argument. We all know it when we see it. If Brady did alter the balls, he should be disciplined and it should be harsh. Whether it is a technicality that he (and other players) were not told is besides the point — even in a court of law.

    Brady needs a judgment that, (1) the league conducted an illegal sting operation due to lack of proper institutional controls; (2) the league had (and still has despite the new policy) flawed procedures to ensure integrity of the footballs; (3) The league has no evidence that Brady directed anyone to alter the balls — at best he asked the patriots game day employee to ensure that the ball was not over inflated and to encourage them to lobby the refs to put the ball on the low end.

  38. I think it is obvious Brady will not be suspended. If the fine above is imposed, macaroons will continue to call Brady a cheat. Which is a shame. Brady winning a superbowl in seasons he starts most games occurs at a higher rate than rain on jets fans.

  39. Whichever side of the issue you sit on, there is no denying that Troy Vincent looks really dumb in the appeal hearing. How can the person in charge of handing out punishment know so little about the process?

  40. enough already…B’s & B’s names have been dragged through the mud far too long. it’s finally starting to bite the accusers because people are starting to see through their scurrilous leaks and well-timed propaganda. the patriots, indeed any team, are no boy scouts and certainly the league isn’t either–in fact, how the league has conducted itself is FAR WORSE than what any player or team has done with respect to football, using the media to spread its blatant misinformation throughout the land. if i wanted to hear that, i would follow politics.

    JFC, can’t wait until the season begins, so all involved can settle the hash on the field.

  41. This is why I’ve said that Brady’s guilt or innocence is mostly irrelevent from a suspension stand point. No rules in the book about how to handle it and no supported precedent in favor of it. This is why many of the suspensions that get to court get struck down. Basically it’s like trying to justify doing the wrong thing for the right reason. And that’s if you have 100% verified guilt in the first place. When I look at the behavior of both parties they are both trying to earn a win that simply does not exist. They should have stamped inconclusive on it and added tighter regulations going forward so this would never be an issue ever again

  42. Interesting. An article that pretty much shows this amount of intense scrutiny and ridiculously harsh punishment is unwarranted and hardly anyone has commented on it. Gonna be funny when Brady is fined 6k for an equipment violation that he “more probably than not” had nothing to do with. C’mon frauds, where are you all ?

  43. I am wondering how someone can get in trouble for something that they did not know after all even the NFL is admiting the players did not know the rule

  44. That is one side of the argument but, clearly this fine represents more than just deflating footballs, it’s about deliberately not cooperating with a serious investigation. Brady’s lawyer rolled the dice by not providing phones and lost.

  45. lel.

    Troy Vincent. Expert at licking Goodell’s boots.

    At reading or understanding anything else? Not so much.

  46. In Michigan, an attorney will be suspended by the state bar for failing to cooperate with the investigation of a misconduct grievance even if the underlying allegation is unsustainable. Without having read the full text of the NFL Appeal ruling, one can’t help but wonder if that concept might allow the league to hang Brady even though the “misconduct” might be scientifically unsustainable hogwash.

  47. “That is one side of the argument but, clearly this fine represents more than just deflating footballs, it’s about deliberately not cooperating with a serious investigation. Brady’s lawyer rolled the dice by not providing phones and lost.”

    Wrong once again, There is no precedent for administering punishment for not cooperating with an investigation and Brady was never informed that there would be punished for not going so.

  48. Jeffrey Kessler to Roger Goodell:
    “We’re going to make you and your gang look more and more incompetent and dishonest every day. You tell me when to stop.”

  49. I read through a portion of the transcript last night. I think there are two key issues that could blow up in the NFL’s face.

    The first – Troy Vincent admitting that the Game Day Operation Manual was never handed out to ANY of the players in the league. To me that’s more of technicality, but could go in Brady’s favor.

    The second, and I think most damaging to the League and Wells, is the fact that Brady was never informed that he could be subjected to punishment for not producing his cellphone. Ted Wells acknowledges this. This is also part of the NFLPA’s strategy as they will argue that, under the CBA, the player must be informed of what they are being punished for.

    What do I know; I’m just a Wednesday morning lawyer.

    BTW – FREE BRADY!!

  50. That is one side of the argument but, clearly this fine represents more than just deflating footballs, it’s about deliberately not cooperating with a serious investigation. Brady’s lawyer rolled the dice by not providing phones and lost
    ———————————–
    Agree
    A serious investigation.
    Hit Brady with the $25K fine just as it states in the leagues’ bylaws.

  51. The general rule of thumb is, ignorance of the law is no excuse.

    If fans know you aren’t supposed to alter the football then why don’t the players? Heck, a few years ago, McNabb didn’t even understand the overtime rule during the regular season.

  52. “Punishing any single employee for general knowledge of a wrongdoing should not be possible in any business”

    Not necessarily true. If you are aware of sexual abuse or drug use at your company and you fail to report it you might be held accountable when things come to light. ESPECIALLY if you are in a leadership position.

  53. “And other equipment or uniform violations result in a fine of only $5,787 for a first offense.”

    So the NFL owes the Pats $9,942,13 and they get their draft picks back.

    Brady gets fined a maximum of $25,000 and gets the 4 games back.

    BOOM!

  54. The craziest thing about all this to me is that after all this never-ending hullabaloo there’s still no evidence that the Patriots footballs were even deflated any more than the Colts footballs were during that game (given both ideal gas law and not knowing the starting psi of the footballs). So not only isn’t there evidence that Brady is guilty, there isn’t even evidence that a rule may have been broken to begin with.

    It’s like if someone was arrested for stealing a car, gone to trial, sentenced, gone to appeal, amidst a huge media frenzy, and the car is sitting in the garage the whole time. And people can see the car is in the garage! And yet no one has the simple common sense to say, Since we can’t show the car was even taken to begin with, shouldn’t we just stop all this nonsense and go do something else?

  55. This is like George Castanza trying to say he didn’t know it was wrong to have sex with the cleaning lady on his office desk.

  56. thehumburger says:
    Aug 5, 2015 1:00 PM
    The craziest thing about all this to me is that after all this never-ending hullabaloo there’s still no evidence that the Patriots footballs were even deflated any more than the Colts footballs were during that game (given both ideal gas law and not knowing the starting psi of the footballs). So not only isn’t there evidence that Brady is guilty, there isn’t even evidence that a rule may have been broken to begin with.

    It’s like if someone was arrested for stealing a car, gone to trial, sentenced, gone to appeal, amidst a huge media frenzy, and the car is sitting in the garage the whole time. And people can see the car is in the garage! And yet no one has the simple common sense to say, Since we can’t show the car was even taken to begin with, shouldn’t we just stop all this nonsense and go do something else?
    —————–
    ^ This . You hit the nail on the head, but the jealous haters will still claim that Bardy cheated and their proof is that he cheated. This si their mentality, they are so envious Of Tom, they think he is arrogant and shmug, but Ive never seen it, he is just good.

    Lets face it, people like to see a superstar fall from grace, but it wont be this day my friends, this day we live on to fight another day and all the haters will get their panties in more of a wrinkle and Im a laugh all the way to the bank.

  57. “And people can see the car is in the garage!”

    “^ This . You hit the nail on the head,”

    ———————————

    Add one more thing to the example. If that someone, who was accused of stealing the car, had resisted arrest for stealing the car. Or lied about their whereabouts. You’d still have a crime. Brady failed to comply in the investigation, and appeared to have taken steps to destroy evidence.

  58. Add one more thing to the example. If that someone, who was accused of stealing the car, had resisted arrest for stealing the car. Or lied about their whereabouts. You’d still have a crime. Brady failed to comply in the investigation, and appeared to have taken steps to destroy evidence.

    ———————————-
    True, IF they had lied about the car.. your problem is that BRADY didnt lie. Saying Brady failed to comply in the investigation is untrue and appearing to have taken steps to destroy evidence may have appeared like that, but we now know with context that he didnt.. So you fail. Using your anolgies maybe you should be arrested for helping to kill Odin lloyd along with Aaron hernandez, I mean you never said you didnt. You erased emails. You have gaps in your lifetime where nobody knew where you were. GUILTY!!!

  59. ^This argument isn’t logical. What context are you talking about? And if there was nothing to hide, then why not just be straight up about it. If he didn’t do anything wrong, then why not just prove that? As a public personality, he’s tried in the court of public opinion, which right or wrong, is going to affect his legacy as a player. So why let your name get dragged through the mud when he could avoid all that. It’s like when the police have a murder suspect and ask him for a DNA sample, nobody innocent ever tells them no. It’s always the guilty one who fights his ass off to avoid doing so. Sure they make all kinds of arguments about protect in their civil liberties, or making a stand out of respect for the constitution and to protect against the erosion of it by setting a precedent, just like Brady made about the CBA, but it’s all bollocks, a side show to distract against the bigger truth, which unfortunately, we don’t know because he didn’t cooperate with the investigation. My take is this, the damage caused by his cooperation would’ve far outweighed the damage he’s taking for not cooperating. From a public relations perspective, which Brady has some of the best experts in that field working on his side, that’s exactly what what’s going on.

  60. ^ Everything you just said does not apply to Brady and his situation. Were you one of the independent investigators? bet you were. Brady went on vacation so he must be guilty! Brady got a new cell phone, so he must be guilty! Brady played basketball with MJ, GUILTY!!

    FACT: Wells said he did not need the physical phone, just the texts. Those were given to him. **read this again**

    FACT: Wells team did not even look at SCIENCE, because it wouldnt help in their agenda probably

    FACT: The NFL argues against releasing the transcripts…I know this doesn’t prove anything but I threw it in here anyway to show how simple things can be used against you.

    FACT: Bradys rep in the eyes of haters has never been anything he worried about, so your argument there is moot.

  61. Oh I forgot, you wanted Brady to prove he didnt do anything wrong… WOW, so many ways to go with this one. Besides the obvious glaring fact that one does not need to prove their innocence, one needs to prove someone is guilty. WOW, just WOW. Hey, You helped Hernandez kill Odin Lloyd! Prove you didnt! prove it. YOURE GUILTY!

  62. How exactly am I hating on anybody? I’m about as objective in this as it gets, but I have a feeling that you’re one of “those people” who has to have the last word. Truth be told, I had my red, white, and blue on in New Orleans in 2002. My point is that Brady’s actions are opposite of logical for an innocent man.

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