NEW YORK (AP) — New England quarterback Tom Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell are set to explain to a judge why a controversy over underinflated footballs at last season’s AFC conference championship game is spilling into a new season.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman ordered the men to appear before him Wednesday at an initial hearing in Manhattan after the NFL sued the players union two weeks ago.
The league asked the judge to declare that it followed its players’ contract properly when it punished Brady after Goodell concluded he “knew about, approved of, consented to, and provided inducements and rewards” to support a scheme in which a Patriots’ employee deflated balls on game day. Brady insists he knew nothing about it.
On Tuesday, Berman asked Goodell and Brady, along with lawyers, to appear before him privately a half hour before a public court session. He said he wants to learn the status of negotiations. He also asked them to continue negotiating prior to the hearing. Brady was not at Patriots practice.
At a news conference in Illinois, Goodell said the league plans to cooperate fully with Berman.
In a July 28 decision upholding the suspension, Goodell heavily criticized Brady for having an aide destroy a cellphone containing nearly 10,000 text messages from a four-month stretch including the AFC championship, when the Patriots defeated Indianapolis 45-7, and the Super Bowl, which New England won.
He accused him of obstructing the NFL probe about a controversy that represented “conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football.”
In court documents, the union’s lawyers said the suspension was unfair and violates the labor contract and complained that it would cause irreparable harm to Brady by forcing him to miss games.
They called a June appeals hearing before Goodell “a kangaroo court proceeding, bereft of fundamentally fair procedures.”
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