CHICAGO — NFL commissioner Roger Goodell doesn’t appear to be in a negotiating mood over Tom Brady’s four-game suspension in connection with the Patriots’ alleged use of purposely deflated footballs in New England’s AFC Championship Game win over the Colts in January, 2015.
Two days after the NFL won its appeal of Brady’s initially successful challenge to his suspension, Goodell said he supported the decision and didn’t seem open to any move to lessen the penalty.
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“We think that the decision was the right decision,” Goodell said of Monday’s announcement by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down Brady’s victory at the district court level last September. “It should have been the decision last year from the district court, and that’s what the appellate court said. They reaffirmed our authority and the underlying factors of the case. We think it came out in the right place. We’re not planning any more steps. We’d obviously like to put the matter behind us and move forward.”
Asked directly if he would consider a negotiated settlement, Goodell replied, “We’re not going to sit here and hypothetically talk about what we’re going to do. We had a lot of (settlement) discussions last year, but the determination by the appellate court was very clear and very strong.”
Asked again in a news conference on the eve of the NFL Draft if he would settle with Brady, Goodell said, “We think the court was very clear and that the underlying facts were clear that the judgment that we made was appropriate, so we’re moving forward.”
Goodell added that the league will “continue to negotiate with the [NFL players] union on the commissioner discipline issue. We’ve done that in the past. We’ve made changes in the past and we’re still open to doing that. If it’s a better system, we’re willing to negotiate on that basis.”
It is uncertain whether Brady plans to ask the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to re-hear the case with a larger panel of judges. The case he lost was heard by a three-judge panel, with two of the judges siding with the NFL. Brady also could appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Goodell has been criticized by some high-profile players, including Saints quarterback Drew Brees, for wielding too much power.
“He is judge, jury and executioner when it comes to all the discipline,” Brees told SI.com this week. “I’m not going to trust any league-led investigation when it comes to anything. It’s not transparent.”
Asked about Brees’ remarks and whether Goodell is concerned about his reputation, the commissioner said, “The rules apply to every player, they apply to every team and they apply equally. That’s what we do. It doesn’t matter if you’re the first person on the roster or the 53rd man on the roster. The rules apply to all teams fairly and equally. We continually strive to make sure we’re applying that, no matter who it is and no matter which team.”