Meet the Man Who Will Appeal Tom Brady’s Suspension
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady filed an appeal of his four-game suspension an hour under deadline Thursday, challenging discipline the NFL saw fit for “conduct detrimental to the integrity of the NFL.” In a statement, Brady’s agent Don Yee blasted the Wells Report and the league’s handling of its reigning Super Bowl MVP.
“We will appeal, and if the hearing officer is completely independent and neutral, I am very confident the Wells Report will be exposed as an incredibly frail exercise in fact-finding and logic,” Yee said. “The NFL has a well-documented history of making poor disciplinary decisions that often are overturned when truly independent and neutral judges or arbitrators preside, and a former federal judge has found the commissioner has abused his discretion in the past, so this outcome does not surprise me.”
Taking up Brady’s cause will be labor lawyer Jeffrey Kessler, the NFL Player Association’s legal ace. Kessler most recently represented then Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson after he was indicted for allegedly using a switch to beat his four-year-old son. Peterson served his full suspension on the Commissioner’s exempt list, collecting his paychecks in the meantime. Kessler also represented Patriots coach Bill Belichick in 2000, prying him free from the New York Jets and paving his way to Foxborough.
Kessler, an antitrust lawyer for the New York firm Winston & Strawn, is no stranger to high-profile battles against the NFL on behalf of its players—or even ones named Brady v. NFL. He was a key player in the antitrust suit McNeil v. the NFL, which led to the establishment of free agency in the NFL, as well as Brady v. NFL, which helped end the league’s bitter lockout in 2011. Kessler’s other clients have included National Basketball Players Association, the Arena Football League Players Association, the NHL Players Association, the MLB Players Association, and… Latrell Sprewell?
Kessler will only take up Brady’s cause, and not the $1 million fine and loss of draft picks imposed on the Patriots by Goodell.