NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell informed the NFL Player’s Association Tuesday that he will not recuse himself from Tom Brady‘s June 23 appeal hearing, according to a letter obtained by NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport.
Brady is trying to reduce or eliminate a four-game suspension he received due to his involvement with improperly deflated footballs used in the AFC Championship Game this past season. However, in the letter to the Player’s Association, Goodell said that he does not feel prejudiced on the matter.
“My mind is open,” he wrote.
He added: “Because protecting the integrity of the game is the Commissioner’s most important responsibility, I decline to rewrite our Collective Bargaining Agreement to abrogate my authority and ‘discretion’ to hear ‘any appeal’ in a conduct detrimental proceeding.”
The heart of Goodell’s letter centered around an explanation. The Commissioner said that the Ray Rice situation — one in which he did recuse himself — was a different matter because the case centered around something Rice told Goodell personally in a meeting.
In this matter, Goodell says he has maintained his objectivity and that he is not averse to reaching a different conclusion on Brady’s suspension.
“I have publicly expressed my appreciation to (Brady investigator) Mr. Wells and his colleagues for their thorough and independent work,” Goodell wrote. “But that does not mean that I am wedded to their conclusions or to their assessment of the facts. Nor does it mean that, after considering the evidence and argument presented during the appeal, I may not reach a different conclusion about Mr. Brady’s conduct or the discipline imposed.”
Goodell also denied the NFLPA’s request to testify in the appeal.
“There is no basis upon which I could properly be asked to testify in the appeal proceeding, which under Article 46 of the CBA is designed to afford Mr. Brady an opportunity to bring new or additional facts or circumstances to my attention for consideration.”