The New England Patriots said in court papers filed Wednesday in Manhattan that it has a "strong interest" in sparing Tom Brady from starting the season with a four-game suspension.
The papers say the Patriots "strongly believe" nobody tampered with footballs at the 2015 AFC Championship Game. New England defeated the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 in that game and went on to win the Super Bowl.
A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-to-1 last month to reinstate Brady's four-game suspension. A lower-court judge had ruled last September that the NFL erred in its handling of the probe regarding the deflated footballs and he rejected the suspension a week before the season began.
The following was in a footnote from the Patriots:
“From the outset of this matter the League’s conduct reflects less a search for the truth than pursuit of a predetermined result and defense of a report which, despite no direct evidence of tampering or Mr. Brady’s involvement, was relied on to impose penalties with no precedent or correlation to the alleged offense. The League’s commitment to the conclusions of the Wells Report on which the penalties were based was so absolute that in Mr. Brady’s appeal one of the chief Paul Weiss investigators and an author of the Report, Mr. [Lorin] Reisner, served as the League’s counsel and examined witnesses. In addition, at the very outset of the investigation the League leaked materially incorrect PSI information and refused to correct it for months, allowing public misperceptions to fester. At the AFC Championship Game itself, and despite having no knowledge of the impact of weather on PSI (as admitted under oath), League personnel were already accusing the Patriots of cheating. The League made a ‘preliminary finding’ of wrongdoing by Patriots’ employees less than 24 hours after the Game. Penalties were imposed only three business days after receipt of the 139 page Wells Report and the 82 page Exponent Report and obviously without any critical assessment of either. The Commissioner publicly praised the Wells Report, imposed penalties based on it, and then insisted on hearing and deciding Mr. Brady’s appeal himself despite the authority to appoint an independent person to do so. When evidence at that hearing did not provide support for enhanced findings against Mr. Brady (to go beyond ‘general awareness’ of violations by others), the Commissioner made new findings and changed the basis on which Mr. Brady was being penalized.”