The New England Patriots are rumored to be getting an unlikely ally in the fight to lift Tom Brady of his four-game suspension.
Brady is taking the NFL to federal court to fight the suspension, where a judge will determine if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acted within his power as commissioner or if he overstepped the bounds of the collective bargaining agreement signed by the league and NFL Players Association.
It now appears he may be getting some help from a rival player. Guard Richie Incognito, who plays for the Buffalo Bills and previously for the Miami Dolphins, spoke out about the process that Brady faced, calling it unfair.
Incognito faced his own investigation from the same man who compiled the DeflateGate report, noted attorney Ted Wells. In 2013, Wells looked into the alleged bullying of Jonathan Martin, determining that Incognito created a difficult work environment and that Dolphins coaches did little to stop it.
In an interview this week, Incognito told Newsday that Goodell’s power makes the process unfair for players.
“I just think it’s bogus, the whole system in how it’s set up with Roger and the complete, absolute power he has,” Incognito told the newspaper. “He has so much power and he hires independent investigators who come in and are obviously not independent. They come in with an agenda and they come in looking to find facts to back up their argument. All the facts are slanted in their favor.
“Ted Wells came in with a mission against me. Ted Wells came in slanted against me and everything in his report was slanted against me. There were some things in there that would have helped my cause that were left out.”
Richie Incognito is not the only one helping Tom Brady make his case. Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McMann noted that the NFL has changed its stance on how “independent” Ted Wells was in the process.
“Consider the NFL’s statement on Jan. 23, 2015 announcing the hiring of Wells: ‘Mr. Wells and his firm bring additional expertise and a valuable independent perspective.’ Also take a look at Goodell’s statement from May 6, 2015, when he praised Wells: ‘I want to express my appreciation to Ted Wells and his colleagues for performing a thorough and independent investigation.’
“Now, however, the NFL maintains that even if Wells was not independent, it shouldn’t make a difference. Not only does this reasoning pose an obvious public relations challenge for the league, but Judge Berman may find it untenable under the law. Judge Berman could deduce that the NFL should be stopped from reneging on procedural guarantees. In other words, even if Article 46 lacks language requiring that Wells be independent, the league arguably should have been expected to fulfill additional assurances made by the commissioner himself.”
The New England Patriots and Tom Brady are rumored to have a chance to avoid a long court battle. Both Brady and Goodell are due in Manhattan court this week for the first of two settlement conferences, where the sides could work toward a resolution that would avoid having a judge decide.
[Image via Getty Images]