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Patriots owner Robert Kraft may ask for a neutral party to resolve any punishment that may be coming for Tom Brady and the organization in the wake of the Wells Report.

Nobody really knows how long Brady could be suspended for or what penalties the organization will receive. Some have said it's possible he could get a year. Others have said he might get nothing, but the NFL has refuted any reports about Brady being suspended to this point.

In any case, it could be an interesting avenue for Kraft to go down, and the NFLPA is hoping that he decides to do it. It's an interesting case because of Brady's status as one of the so-called "golden boys" of the NFL and the organization's stature throughout the professional sports landscape. Many feel Goodell doesn't want to punish Brady at all, especially for the first game of the season against the Steelers.

A neutral party would take away any power Goodell and his employees have to dole out punishment.

Per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk:

It’s a sensible position for Kraft to take, as it relates to his team’s interests. A neutral arbitrator would review the proposed punishment but also would likely entertain any challenges to the underlying investigation, which from a scientific standpoint relies on the very unscientific reality that the two pressure gauges available at the AFC title game generated significantly different readings and disregards referee Walt Anderson’s “best recollection” that he used to inflate the balls before kickoff the gauge that generated halftime measurements that suggest no tampering.

But the precedent could be a dangerous one for the league. If neutral arbitration is required for Brady, why isn’t it required for every player?

Actually, neutral arbitration could be a good idea in this case because any lenience exercised by Goodell would be criticized as favoritism for one of the few owners who: (1) staunchly and publicly defended the Commissioner during the Ray Rice debacle; and (2) determines the Commissioner’s pay. But if Kraft actually wants neutral arbitration, it could mean that Goodell wants to disregard that obvious conflict of interest.
As Florio states, the NFLPA has been lobbying for Goodell to give up his power for handing out punishments entirely for a long time. If Kraft wanted a neutral arbitrator, this could be the first step in getting the commissioner to relinquish such authority.

A neutral party may also favor the Patriots because they wouldn't be associated with the NFL, which could make Brady's punishment, provided he receives one, less significant. Personally, my guess is that he gets a maximum of four games and a minimum of two.

He'll appeal and probably get it cut down to one or two.

As far as the Patriots as an organization are concerned, it's incredibly likely they'll get slapped with some hefty fine, but I can't see it going past that. Some would argue that Bill Belichick should be suspended for an entire season or more due to Sean Payton's year-long suspension as part of the Saints Bountygate scandal in 2012.

That's another story for another time, as it seems Belichick isn't nearly as big a target as Brady is right now.

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Jesse Gaunce 5/11/2015 12:25:00 PM Edit
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