Part of the filings the NFL Players Association supplied includes the actual rule the NFL claims that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady violated. This "rule" has never been supplied to players in the history of the league and is only meant to cover team executives, front office personnel, and the coaching staff. To repeat, it doesn't apply to any member of the Players Association.
When you read the specifics of the rule, which are embedded below courtesy of Deadspin, you'll see some familiar violations. No illegal taping of opposing teams. No bounties. No interfering with the headset communications on game day.
Other violations: No pumping in crowd noise. No unauthorized use of electronic equipment on game day. No tampering.
You'll note that the Atlanta Falcons were found guilty of pumping in crowd noise for two seasons. The team was fined $350,000 and a 2016 5th round draft pick. The Falcons president Rich McKay was suspended from the league's competition committee.
You'll note that the Cleveland Browns were found guilty of illegal electronic communication during the 2014 season. The team was fined $250,000 and no draft picks. General manager Ray Farmer was suspended for the first four games of the NFL season.
You'll note that the New York Jets were found guilty of tampering with former Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis during the 2014-2015 offseason. The team was fined $100,000 and no draft picks. No persons associated with the team were suspended, even though owner Woody Johnson has a history of tampering with players.
What's important to highlight is the continuous reinforcement of this rule against non-players. This rule is not meant to apply to players. In fact, even when the penalties are applied to teams, not a single penalty comes anywhere near what the NFL decided to dock the New England Patriots, even though there was actual proof of wrongdoing in the other instances.
During Tom Brady's appeal, NFL's Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent admit that players don't receive any notification of this set of rules. Even if anything nefarious happened, Tom Brady should not be able to be punished under this rule.
This isn't for the players. This isn't for the players. This isn't for the players.