If New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is seeking a route toward overturning his four-game deflate-gate suspension, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell appeared to hand him a roadmap on Wednesday: Hand over email and text communications.
Speaking from the league's annual spring meetings in San Francisco, Goodell said he looked forward to speaking with Brady about the deflate-gate matter and would be open to considering any new information from the quarterback.
"I look forward to hearing directly from Tom," Goodell said. "If there's new information or there's information that can be helpful to us in getting this right, I want to hear directly from Tom on that. … Is there any new information, or information that he can bring more clarity to? Or something that wasn't considered in the Wells report?"
Goodell also said that Patriots owner Robert Kraft's acceptance of the league's penalties for New England won't impact Brady's appeal. Asked directly if Kraft's acceptance would factor into Brady's situation, Goodell replied flatly with only one word: "No."
Goodell also reiterated that Brady's refusal to turn over emails and text messages from key dates during Ted Wells' investigation into the deflated footballs in January's AFC title game contributed to his four-game suspension. That point is expected to become key in the NFL Players Association's appeal of Brady's suspension – that Brady's lack of cooperation would need to be remedied to alter the NFL's stance.
"I think we were very clear in the letter [from the league], that the non-cooperation was a factor in the discipline – absolutely," Goodell said. "… We do expect to have that [cooperation] in investigations. That's an important part of it. And when there isn't full cooperation, that is certainly part of the discipline."
Goodell didn't give a timetable for Brady's appeal, but appeared to indicate that he would oversee the process, despite the NFLPA asking that Goodell recuse himself so that he could be asked to testify as part of the appeal. While Goodell said he still needed to consider the union's request, recusal appeared to be unlikely.
"One of the primary responsibilities for the commissioner is to protect the integrity of the game, and to do what is right for the game of football," he said. "That's my job. It's our job to determine if there are violations of our rules, of our policies, of our procedures, and to enforce those. … We have a process that's been negotiated with the union. It's been in place for decades. It's my responsibility."