With the battle lines clearly drawn between the league and the Patriots, more shots have been fired. This time its coming from the NFLPA.
In a letter to Troy Vincent, who was the one who decided on the punishment for Tom Brady, the NFLPA points out that it states clearly in the language of the CBA that commissioner Roger Goodell is the only one who has authority to take disciplinary action against a player for conduct detrimental to the league.
We are in receipt of the discipline notice you issued on May 11, 2015, which imposes a
four-game suspension without pay on New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady. This
letter serves as notice of the NFLPA and Mr. Brady’s disciplinary appeal on at least the
First, as both Mr. Brady’s discipline letter and the NFL’s public statements make clear,
you were tasked by Commissioner Goodell to determine whether Mr. Brady should be
subject to discipline for conduct detrimental in connection with the events described in the
Wells Report (the “Report”), and if so, to decide and impose the discipline. And, you have,
in fact, imposed Mr. Brady’s discipline pursuant to the Commissioner’s purported
delegation of his authority. Any such delegation is a plain violation of the CBA.
The CBA grants the Commissioner—and only the Commissioner—the authority to impose
conduct detrimental discipline on players. CBA, Art. 46, § 1(a); id., App. A, ¶ 15. This
express CBA mandate is further confirmed by the “law of the shop.” See Rice Art. 46
Appeal Decision (“Rice”) at 15; Bounty Art. 46 Appeal Decision (“Bounty”) at 4. Indeed,
whereas the CBA expressly authorizes the Commissioner to delegate his authority to serve
as Hearing Officer over Article 46 appeals, after consultation with the NFLPA, it contains
no corresponding provision authorizing the Commissioner to delegate his exclusive role to
impose conduct detrimental discipline to you or anyone else. You have no authority to
impose discipline on Mr. Brady under the CBA, and such discipline must therefore be set
The best part of the letter resides in footnote 1
We also note that one arbitrator has previously found that you, in particular, are unfamiliar with
proper NFL discipline procedures and have no role in imposing discipline. Peterson Art. 46 Appeal
Essentially lawyer speak for saying "In no way, shape or form do you have any idea what you are doing. We award you no points and may God have mercy on your soul"
The letter goes on to name two more grounds for the appeal in that the punishment doesn't fall under the fair and consistent treatment as outlined by the CBA. In as much as it is "s grossly inconsistent with the League’s prior disciplinary treatment of similar alleged conduct". And finally that the discipline relies solely on the Wells Report and that far from finding conclusive evidence that an infraction occurred.
One last bit of interesting information found in the letter, it states that Brady's defense intends to call both Vincent and Roger Goodell as witnesses to testify as to when, how and what they knew about the initial complaint from the Colts. It would seem then that Goodell would not be able to hear this appeal, since you can't be both a witness and an impartial judge at the same time, yet that hasn't stopped him from announcing that he will in fact do just that.
The tale of Deflate-Gate is far from over but it is fitting that a team named the Patriots is the one standing up to a governing body that has become unjust in its ways.
Follow me on Twitter @ETthomehome
Read more of my work here