The National Football League Players Association sued the NFL on Wednesday looking to overturn the four-game suspension given to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for his role in the team using deflated footballs during the AFC championship game in January.
The appeal was filed in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota just a day after the league asked a federal court in Manhattan to uphold and confirm Brady’s suspension before Brady had a chance to file a lawsuit. But on Thursday, a Minnesota judge ordered that the NFLPA's lawsuit concerning Brady be transferred to Manhattan as well.
In the lawsuit, the NFLPA is asking the court to make ruling by Sept. 4 or issue an injunction that will allow Brady to play starting with the season opener six days later against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On Tuesday, the league announced it had upheld Brady's four-game suspension after the quarterback appealed last month. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell accused Brady of destroying his phone rather than allowing the league to use it as evidence.
The NFLPA says Brady’s suspension should be vacated for several reasons. The NFLPA says there is no direct evidence in the Ted Wells report linking Brady to deflated footballs and that the discipline was based on a standard to “justify such absurd and unprecedented punishment.”
The league started its investigation of the Patriots and Brady after reports surfaced that the Patriots used underinflated footballs during their 45-7 AFC championship game rout over the Indianapolis Colts. New England won Super Bowl XLIX two weeks later.
As a result of Wells' independent investigation, Brady was suspended without pay for the first four games of this upcoming season by the NFL, the Patriots were fined $1 million and the team will lose a first-round draft pick in 2016 and its fourth-round draft pick in 2017.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft did not appeal the punishment and said on Wednesday he was wrong for putting his faith in the NFL.
The NFLPA also took issue with Goodell delegating his disciplinary authority to NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent, saying it violates the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The CBA only provides that teams and executives be on fined for tampering with equipment, with the petition saying that no player in NFL history has been suspended for “non-cooperation” or “obstruction.”
In issuing a statement that Brady’s suspension was being upheld, Goodell said Brady was less than forthcoming during the 10-hour appeal meeting in June, and that Brady told an assistant to destroy his cell phone the same day he was to meet with Wells.
The league said that 10,000 text messages from Brady's phone could not be retrieved. The league believed the phone contained crucial evidence.
Brady said in a Facebook post that he disagreed with the narrative surrounding the destruction of his cell phone, adding that he only destroyed the phone after he was told by his attorneys that the content of the phone would not be investigated.
The NFLPA called the evidence against Brady “paper-thin,” and claims that the league violated the procedures and guidelines for Goodell to conduct disciplinary hearings and the rules applicable to players.
“By pursuing this petition, our union is protecting the rights of Tom Brady and of every NFL player past, present and future,” the union said.
- Scooby Axson
GALLERY: TOM BRADY AND CONTROVERSY