The NFLPA and New England Patriots quarterback will be taking the NFL to the Minnesota courts over the league's violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). The NFLPA has issued the following statement:
The Commissioner's ruling today did nothing to address the legal deficiencies of due process. The NFL remains stuck with the following facts:
The NFL had no policy that applied to players;
The NFL provided no notice of any such policy or potential discipline to players;
The NFL resorted to a nebulous standard of "general awareness" to predicate a legally unjustified punishment;
The NFL had no procedures in place until two days ago to test air pressure in footballs; and
The NFL violated the plain meaning of the collective bargaining agreement.
The fact that the NFL would resort to basing a suspension on a smoke screen of irrelevant text messages instead of admitting that they have all of the phone records they asked for is a new low, even for them, but it does nothing to correct their errors.
The NFLPA will appeal this outrageous decision on behalf of Tom Brady.
-- NFL Players Association
What's important to highlight is that the NFLPA is going to bat specifically for Brady, and not on behalf of the Patriots organization (and they shouldn't; that's not their job). They also specifically avoided stating that Brady didn't do it, but instead are attacking the process in which the league investigated Brady.
It's also important that the NFLPA is calling the NFL's highlight of Brady's phone destruction a "smoke screen" because nowhere in the CBA is Brady required to turn over his phone. So the grounds that Goodell is suspending Brady on are:
1) Brady was aware something was happening to the balls.
2) The halftime measurements showed that the balls were deflated (yes, we know this is bunk).
3) Brady destroyed his phone, so he must be hiding something.
The NFLPA's defense, going beyond the fact that there's no precedence for this sort of suspension, is that:
1) Theoretical awareness isn't enough to warrant a suspension. If you knew your teammate was taking PEDs, should you be suspended? That wouldn't hold water.
2) The league didn't have a process for measuring until two days ago, so there's a total lack of quality assurance in the report.
3) The phone is irrelevant because the league doesn't have a right to it.
So there it is. Play ball.