The NFL has issued a stirring 20-page decision on the issue of New England quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension. In it, Roger Goodell makes the case for upholding his own decision by citing evidence gathered by the NFL’s investigatory arm and a nominally independent law firm. It reads about the way you’d expect of a sort of I-play-a-lawyer-on-TV judicial opinion written by a boiled porkchop, which is to say that you really shouldn’t bother reading it unless you have to for your job. If you still want a taste of Goodell’s off-brand jurisprudence, though, here is one sentence from each of the decision’s 20 pages.
Page 1: Mr. Brady, through the NFL Players Association, filed a timely appeal of his suspension.
Page 2: The record in this appeal is extensive.
Page 3: Seventh, Mr. Brady, through his attorneys, declined to provide the investigators with access to highly relevant electronic information, such as emails and text messages.
Page 4: This finding is buttressed by the opinion of Professor Marlow, whom I found to be highly credible at the hearing, and who testified that he was “highly impressed with the level of detail, thought, planning and execution” of Exponent’s work; that it was “really a first class piece of work”; and that “the conclusions are correct.”
Page 5: As always, I am bound, of course, by standards of fairness and consistency of treatment among players similarly situated, and I have had those standards in my mind throughout my consideration of this appeal.
Page 6: ...(d) after leaving the Officials’ Locker Room with the footballs, Mr. McNally proceeded to a small restroom, locked himself inside and remained there for approximately one minute and forty seconds; and (e) Mr. McNally did so even though he had access to the men’s room facilities in the Officials’ Locker Room.
Page 7: He further testified, and Dr. Caligiuri confirmed, that all of the experts who participated in the investigation were instructed to act as if they were “court-appointed” experts and to provide “objective science.”
Page 8: But in considering the entire record, including Mr. Brady’s testimony, the credibility of other witnesses and the documentary evidence, I cannot credit this denial for the following reasons.
Page 9: Given that there is no dispute that Mr. McNally’s only assigned responsibility with respect to the game balls was to deliver them, I find that “trying to get them done” referred to tampering with the inflation level of the balls.
Page 10: In context, it is plain that the word “newkicks” referred to shoes.
Page 11: C. Did Mr. Brady refuse to cooperate with the investigation?
Page 12: Aside from the fact that, under Article 46, Section 2(f) of the CBA, such information could and should have been provided long enough before the hearing, the approach suggested in the agents’ letter—which would require tracking down numerous individuals and seeking consent from each to retrieve from their cellphones detailed information about their text message communications during the relevant period—is simply not practical.
Page 13: All of this indisputably constitutes conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football.
Page 14: As noted above, I am very much aware of, and believe in, the consistency in discipline for similarly situated players.
Page 15: However, it bears mention that the Jets’ employee was suspended from his regular game-day duties for a period longer than the suspension under review here.
Page 16: The four-game suspension imposed on Mr. Brady is fully consistent with, if not more lenient than, the discipline ordinarily imposed for the most comparable effort by a player to secure an improper competitive advantage and (by using a masking agent) to cover up the underlying violation.
Page 17: As a threshold matter, there is no disagreement about the obligation of club employees, including players, to cooperate with a proper League investigation.
Page 18: Finally, the NFLPA and Mr. Brady have argued that I improperly delegated my “conduct detrimental” authority and that the Paul Weiss investigation was not independent.
Page 19: But this disagreement does not matter: If the entire investigation had been conducted by in-house NFL employees instead of an outside law form, I would still view it as a thorough and reliable basis for my findings and conclusions and a thorough and detailed means of providing Mr. Brady and the NFLPA notice of the conduct detrimental for which the suspension was imposed.
Page 20: The four-game suspension is confirmed.