Now that the NFL has won its Deflategate appeal – and Tom Brady’s four-game suspension has been reinstated – the NFLPA must figure out its next move, and fast.
For now, though, the surprise, if not altogether shock, is still pretty raw.
“You’re disappointed,” NFLPA Assistant Executive Director of External Affairs George Atallah said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “You don’t want those situations to go against you. We’ve been fortunate enough over the years to have had more of these types of decisions go our way, so when it doesn’t go your way, you’re disappointed. You hold your head up high, though, for having fought hard and taking it this far. I think the players union can feel pretty proud of itself that we’ve taken the fight to the NFL in this way and stood up for what’s right. Despite what the judges say, we still feel strongly in our position. We’re proud that we defended Tom, and we’ll continue to stand behind him and other players.”
As for Brady, the NFLPA is currently weighing its options.
“We’re taking a look at the decision carefully,” Atallah said. “We don’t take any of these appeal decisions lightly. We want to be in a position where we do what’s best for Tom and for players. We have 14 days to decide from the date of the decision, so we’ll take a look at it and figure out the best way forward.”
Quite simply, the NFLPA has two choices: appeal or don’t appeal.
“We can appeal back to the second circuit for the full panel, or we can make a decision to back down and let this thing go,” Atallah explained. “We’ll see where we are after we have reviewed the options, but given that Tom could conceivably be sitting out the first four games of the 2016 season, I think this thing is far from over in terms of having a public discourse about it.”
Atallah was asked about potentially reaching a settlement with the NFL regarding Brady’s suspension.
“Well, there are two things that come to mind with that,” Atallah said. “First, we have not heard an official confirmation from the NFL office that they are actually going to implement the suspension. I find that interesting. The second thing that I find interesting is we’ve got a long runway between now and the NFL season. There are months and months left here before Tom actually has to serve that suspension. . . . I don’t hold those hopes to be very high, but I’m never one to predict given the two things I just mentioned.
One thing Atallah is certain about: The NFLPA will fight if it thinks the league has wronged a player.
“I do believe fundamentally that there was no concrete evidence against Tom and that didn’t do the things that they say that he did,” Atallah said. “So whether or not we’re going to have some hypothetical settlement, that’s going to rely on some sort of honest adult in the room from their side to make an overture at this point. If recent history holds true to form, I really don’t know that that’s going to happen.”
On that note, Doug Gottlieb wonders why the NFL has not released its PSI-testing results from last season.
“Great question,” Atallah said. “That is a great question for the league office. That is potentially exculpatory evidence for Tom. We are confused by their entire PSI process. We have no idea what they did this past year. Their public comments conflict. In fact, let me be the first on your show to call for them to release that information to the public and be transparent.
“The decision at this point is what it is,” Atallah continued. “But I can guarantee you there is plenty of room for interpretation in terms of what we can do to protect players rights moving forward. We’re going to continue to fight.”