Tom Brady's appeal of four-game NFL suspension begins

Tue Jun 23, 2015 11:55am EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tom Brady's appeal of his four-game National Football League suspension for participating in a scheme to deflate footballs during last season's playoffs began on Tuesday at NFL headquarters on swanky Park Avenue.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who approved the suspension, is the arbiter of the appeal by the New England Patriots quarterback. A league-hired investigator has found that Brady had been aware of the plan.

The city block in front of the league's corporate headquarters was crowded with TV cameras and reporters, with satellite trucks lined in front of the Park Avenue address.

Brady, wearing a dark suit and tie and accompanied by an entourage on a steamy day in New York, was mobbed by autograph seekers on his way into the office tower, while a young fan waved a sign with "Free Brady" written above the Patriots logo.

The Patriots were fined $1 million and forced to surrender two draft choices for deflating footballs in a 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts in January's American Football Conference (AFC) championship, which put New England in the Super Bowl.

New England defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 28-24, in the Super Bowl, a title now viewed by some as tainted. Deflating a football below NFL standards could enable a quarterback to grip the ball better, especially in the raw conditions in which the AFC title game was played.

A four-game suspension against the 37-year-old Brady could harm his legacy as one of the NFL's greatest quarterbacks ever. He has denied any knowledge of a plan to deflate the balls.

Should Goodell uphold the league's suspension, the four-time Super Bowl champion could take his case to federal court, where the NFL's track record has been shaky recently.   Continued...

New England Patriot's quarterback Tom Brady arrives at NFL headquarters as people ask for autographs in New York June 23, 2015.  REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton