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Brady should embrace NFLPA assistance for appeal

Jeffrey Kessler

NBA players association attorney Jeffrey Kessler arrives for a meeting in New York, Monday, Nov. 14, 2011. Player representatives from NBA teams are meeting to discuss the league’s proposal for a new labor deal. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)


During the Ted Wells investigation, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady chose not to accept advice or representation from the NFL Players Association. Moving forward, Brady should embrace both.

The NFLPA has had great success in recent years challenging player discipline in high-profile cases, thanks in large part to the efforts of outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler (pictured). Three years ago, the NFLPA used litigation to pressure Commissioner Roger Goodell to designate authority over the appeals filed by Saints players in the bounty scandal to former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. And Tagliabue overturned all player punishments. Last year, the NFLPA relied on Goodell’s role as a witness in the Ray Rice case to persuade Goodell to appoint a neutral arbitrator, who overturned Rice’s indefinite suspension. Earlier this year, the NFLPA secured a ruling in federal court in Minnesota vacating the suspension imposed on Adrian Peterson.

It’s believed that Brady eschewed NFLPA assistance during the investigation in part based on the perceived preferences of the league. The thinking was that, by not involving the union, Brady and the Patriots would not be potentially complicating the process unnecessarily.

In hindsight, Brady perhaps should have taken advantage of NFLPA insight, regardless of how that would have complicated the process. At a minimum, Kessler could have provided advice aimed at laying the proper foundation for attacking a suspension via the appeal process.