Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
 / Updated 

Tom Brady appealed his four-game Deflate-Gate suspension, and Commissioner Roger Goodell said he would hear the case directly — rejecting the players union’s request for an independent arbitrator.

The NFL Players Association said in a statement earlier Thursday:

Given the NFL's history of inconsistency and arbitrary decisions in disciplinary matters, it is only fair that a neutral arbitrator hear this appeal. If Ted Wells and the NFL believe, as their public comments stated, that the evidence in their report is "direct" and "inculpatory," then they should be confident enough to present their case before someone who is truly independent.

Brady, the star quarterback of the New England Patriots, was suspended after an investigator hired by the NFL concluded that team personnel probably let air out of footballs before the AFC championship game and that Brady probably knew about it.

His appeal came on the same day that the team released a lengthy rebuttal — almost 20,000 words — to the investigator’s report.

The Patriots said in their rebuttal that the conclusions of the Wells Report were "at best, incomplete, incorrect and lack context."

The team challenged the interpretation of the incriminating text messages between Patriots locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski, who was responsible for preparing game balls.

Wells' report released several exchanges that took place in the weeks leading up to the AFC title game, where the two appear to discuss the air pressure of game balls. McNally refers to himself as "the deflator" in one of the exchanges. But the team said there was another interpretation of the use "deflation" and "deflator" in the text messages, saying instead that McNally used the term in reference to weight loss goals.

According to the rebuttal, McNally was trying to lose weight and used the term “deflate” to mean weight loss, thus making him the "deflator."

The Patriots were fined $1 million, and the league stripped them of two draft pick — a first-round pick in 2016 and a fourth-rounder in 2017.

IN-DEPTH

— Erin McClam and Daniella Silva