Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who was suspended Monday for four games by NFL vice president of operations Troy Vincent, is expected to appeal the penalty sometime before Thursday's 5 p.m. deadline.
Brady was suspended less than a week after a 243-page report by attorney Ted Wells indicated the quarterback had "general knowledge" of the Patriots' use of deflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 18 against the Indianapolis Colts.
The NFL must decide whether to hear Brady's appeal within 10 days, but it isn't yet known who will hear it. Commissioner Roger Goodell has the authority to preside over the appeal process, but he also can appoint someone else to serve as the appeal officer.
Goodell turned to former NFL Management Council executive Harold Henderson to hear the appeals of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who was suspended last season in connection with his severe disciplining of his 4-year-old son. Henderson upheld the NFL's six-game suspension of Peterson, but the running back subsequently filed suit in Minneapolis and had the suspension overturned. The NFL has appealed that ruling, although Peterson has since been reinstated.
Goodell also appointed Henderson to hear Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy's appeal of a 10-game suspension handed down last month. The commissioner appointed a neutral arbitrator, former U.S. Judge Barbara Jones, to hear former Ravens running back Ray Rice's appeal of an indefinite suspension. Jones overturned the suspension, and Rice was reinstated by the NFL. He has yet to sign with a new team.
Goodell also called upon former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue to be the hearing officer in a second round of appeals for the Saints' bounty case. Tagliabue upheld the suspensions of coach Sean Payton and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams but vacated the suspensions of four players.
The league has not indicated whether Goodell will hear the Brady appeal, although he appears to have left himself some wiggle room to handle the case. Vincent was the one who handed down the penalties to Brady and the Patriots, who were fined $1 million and forfeited a first-round draft choice in 2016 and a fourth-round pick in 2017. It is uncertain whether the Patriots will appeal those sanctions.
Brady has retained the services of former NFLPA lead attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who is now in private practice but has been at the center of several legal skirmishes with the league in the past. Kessler has been a driving force behind the players' pursuit of unrestricted free agency and also was involved in taking the NFL to court during the months-long lockout in 2011. Kessler is expected to demand that Goodell appoint a neutral arbitrator to hear the case.