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Patriots owner Robert Kraft backs Brady’s appeal of 4-game ban

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots celebrates

Tom Brady of the New England Patriots celebrates with team owner Robert Kraft after defeating the Seattle Seahawks, 28-24, during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on Feb. 1, 2015 in Glendale, Ariz. Credit: Getty Images / Tom Pennington

Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been critical of the NFL’s handling of Tom Brady’s Deflategate case. He has ratcheted up the rhetoric by approving the submission of a letter of support in Brady’s latest appeal of his four-game suspension.

The Patriots filed an “amicus brief” Wednesday with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which is deciding whether to rehear Brady’s case before a full panel of judges. Last month, a three-judge panel upheld commissioner Roger Goodell’s suspension of Brady for his alleged role in using purposely deflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game in January 2015.

NFL owners are not permitted to sue the league, and the document submitted to the court doesn’t constitute a lawsuit. But the brief is a clear shot across the bow at Goodell and the league’s punishment of Brady, who was found to be “generally aware” of the use of the deflated footballs in the Patriots’ 45-7 win over the Colts at Gillette Stadium.

The eight-page filing, written by attorney Daniel Goldberg, underscored several points raised in Brady’s appeal, which the NFL Players Association and attorney Ted Olson filed Monday.

“The impact of the majority opinion is not limited to professional football,” Goldberg wrote. “It threatens to undermine vital principles governing arbitration of collective bargaining agreements throughout the national economy.”

Goldberg also wrote that “unfairness has permeated the entire handling of this matter by the League. Among other matters . . . the Commissioner treated Mr. Brady’s appeal not as an appeal but as a continuation of the investigation.”

Goldberg also said the three-judge panel’s decision “raises issues of exceptional importance: the fundamental fairness of arbitration proceedings, an arbitrator’s duty to ‘give each of the parties to the dispute an adequate opportunity to present its evidence and argument,’ and the arbitrator’s duty to hear all ‘pertinent material evidence.’ ’’

A group of 21 professors also filed an amicus brief this week casting aspersions on Goodell’s conclusion that the footballs used in the first half had been deflated intentionally. The professors suggested the deflation occurred naturally.

“Although sensationalized in the press, it was no surprise to any scientist that the Patriots’ footballs lost pressure during the (game),” the letter said. “As the league’s reports recognize, so-called ‘deflation’ happens naturally when any closed vessel, such as a football, moves from a warm environment to a cold one. This is not tampering. It is science. And it pervades the NFL. Games routinely are played with footballs that fall below the league’s minimum pressure requirement.”

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