BATAVIA, N.Y. —
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took the air out of reaching a settlement with Tom Brady following the Patriots star quarterback’s latest appeal of the league’s four-game “Deflategate” suspension.
“At this stage, no,” Goodell said Monday, noting there have been several previous bids to reach a settlement. “The courts will make their decisions, and we’ll move forward on that basis.”
Goodell spoke while attending Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly’s 30th annual charitable golf tournament being held outside of Buffalo.
The comments were Goodell’s first in two weeks since Brady’s lawyers asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a new hearing before an expanded panel of judges. The request comes after a three-judge panel in April reinstated Brady’s suspension for what the NFL ruled was the quarterback’s role in using underinflated footballs during the 2015 AFC championship game.
The type of appeal Brady is seeking is rarely granted.
Brady’s lawyers argue Goodell is biased because he was responsible for initial suspension and then backed his decision when the quarterback lodged an appeal. Brady was officially informed of his initial suspension by NFL Executive Vice President Troy Vincent.
Two of the three 2nd Circuit judges ruled the players had negotiated away their right to an impartial arbiter when they agreed to allow the commissioner to hear appeals.
Goodell was pleased with the judges backing his authority, though disappointed by the slow pace it’s taken in reaching a resolution.
“If there’s a better system (of appeals), we’ll do it, but when it comes to the integrity of the game, that’s the responsibility of the commissioner,” Goodell said. “And we’re not going to hand that integrity of the game off to somebody who doesn’t have any involvement in the game.”
Questions over the NFL commissioner’s authority as defined in the collective bargaining agreement were raised by sports attorney David Cornwell in 2009, when he was one of four finalists to replace the late Gene Upshaw as the NFL Players Association’s executive director.
Cornwell called the league’s disciplinary policy “draconian” and argued the process requires independent oversight.
DeMaurice Smith won the election and remains the NFLPA’s chief.
Goodell touched on several other topics including the status of the Oakland Raiders considering the possibility of relocating to Las Vegas.
Goodell said he’d prefer the Raiders staying in Oakland, but noted Las Vegas as being one of several sites the team is considering.
As for the Chargers’ future in San Diego, Goodell favors the team reaching a deal to have a new stadium built downtown. The first step is having the issue placed on ballot and voted upon in November.
“We’re going to be meeting with them in a couple of weeks. I think there’s real progress out there, but these projects are hard,” Goodell said. “Ultimately, it’s the community’s solution and the community’s decision.”
In Buffalo, Goodell said Bills’ new owners, Terry and Kim Pegula, are exploring their options as to whether a new stadium is required to keep their franchise competitive in the long term.
Ralph Wilson Stadium opened in 1973 and has undergone numerous renovations, with the latest upgrade costing $130 million in 2014.
The Pegulas proposed the possibility of building a new stadium during their successful bid in purchasing the team from the estate of late Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson in 2014.
Last summer, Terry Pegula said he was in no rush to build a new stadium, and noted there was plenty of time to devise a plan under the stadium’s current lease, which runs through 2022.