Published July 30, 2015
UB sports law expert Nellie Drew says she respects NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s affirmation of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension — a decision in “direct contrast” to how the league handled the Ray Rice controversy over domestic violence.
“I’m impressed that Roger Goodell is standing by his decision,” says Drew, who teaches sports law courses in UB’s Law School.
“This time the NFL is making the logical connection between the ‘coincidental’ destruction of Brady’s cell phone and Brady’s imminent meeting with NFL investigators,” Drew says. “Tom Brady may routinely destroy his cell phones – or not. But to do so when in the midst of an ongoing investigation certainly raises questions of credibility.”
Drew is a nationally recognized expert in her field. She is a longtime team attorney for the Buffalo Sabres, and has been quoted extensively in the local and national media on sports law issues ranging from domestic violence to the fate of the Buffalo Bills
Tuesday’s decision to uphold the four-game suspension for Brady’s role in secretly deflating footballs “scrupulously followed the disciplinary appeals procedure,” according to Drew.
“Therefore, I would expect that decision to be upheld in court,” Drew says, “perhaps with the dictum that if the players want additional protection in the disciplinary procedure they need to negotiate for it at the collective bargaining table.”
Drew says it “strains credulity to believe that he and agent, Don Yee, did not discuss the ramifications of destroying the phone.
“As for Brady’s vehement denials of guilt, well – he either really, truly believes he is innocent – or he is incredibly arrogant. Take your pick.”
Drew says full disclosure requires her to admit she is a Bills fan.
“Nevertheless, it’s hard to believe Tom would stand on a soapbox to defend the collectively bargained rights of his fellow NFL players," she says.
Drew says Goodell’s standing by his original decision and refusal to amend Brady’s original four-game suspension, which includes a Sept. 20 game in Orchard Park against the Bills, is in direct contrast to last year, “when the NFL ignored the implications of the initial video of Ray Rice’s conduct until confronted with the TMZ clip.”