New York City has not staged an NFL game in more than 30 years, but it still is the home field of many powerful men in suits. On Tuesday the city will host arguably the most important contest of this offseason.
At 9:30 a.m. at NFL headquarters on Park Avenue, commissioner Roger Goodell is to hear Tom Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension in the wake of the Patriots' alleged use of underinflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game in January.
Brady also was cited for not fully cooperating with the investigation into the matter, specifically for refusing to turn over his cellphone.
Appeals hearings do not get any bigger than this: a four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback looking to have his suspension lifted, or at least reduced, and a league seeking the right path in what has been a potholed road to justice.
Jeffrey Kessler, the NFL Players Association's outside counsel, will represent Brady, along with other attorneys. The goal will be to present testimony that might change the mind of Goodell, who authorized the suspension in the first place after NFL executive VP Troy Vincent recommended it. The union asked Goodell to recuse himself from deciding on the appeal, but he declined to do so.
The players' side hopes to offer new information provided by Brady and/or raise questions about the science -- and assumptions -- behind the damning, 243-page Wells Report on the incident, which largely is based on circumstantial evidence.
In addition to the Brady suspension, the Patriots were fined $1 million and lost first- and fourth-round draft picks.
It is not clear what Brady will do if he loses. But if Goodell opts to reduce the suspension to two games, it is possible the quarterback and union will settle for that compromise and move on.
Although the appeal will be held Tuesday, it is unlikely that Goodell will announce a decision immediately, or even soon.
The Patriots open at home against the Steelers Sept. 10 in a nationally televised, prime-time game.