NFL chief Goodell will not recuse himself from Brady's 'Deflategate' appeal

Tue Jun 2, 2015 4:28pm EDT
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By Steve Ginsburg

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday rejected a request by the players union that he recuse himself as the arbitrator in the "Deflategate" appeal of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Brady, a four-time Super Bowl champion, was suspended by the NFL for four games next season in connection with a scheme to deflate footballs in January's AFC championship game.

Goodell said he would exercise his responsibility under the labor agreement to serve as a hearing officer in any appeal of an offense that affects the integrity of the game.

"My mind is open," Goodell wrote in a letter to the union.

The scandal is the latest problem for the NFL. The country's most popular sports league was sharply criticized last year for the light sanctions it handed out to players who committed domestic violence.

The NFL Players Association called for Goodell to recuse himself from Brady's appeal, calling him a key witness, while citing his "evident partiality" to the investigator's report on how the footballs were deflated.

"I am not a necessary or even an appropriate witness, much less a 'central witness' as the NFLPA contends," Goodell wrote, adding that safeguarding the game's integrity "is the commissioner’s most important responsibility."

"I decline to rewrite our collective bargaining agreement to abrogate my authority and discretion," he added.   Continued...

Tom Brady speaks at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts, May 7, 2015.  REUTERS/Charles Krupa/Pool