Twelve days after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told CNBC that a decision on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's Deflategate appeal was "coming soon," he said Tuesday there is no timeline for a ruling.
"We are obviously being very thorough and want to make sure we consider all aspects of his appeal," Goodell said at a fundraising luncheon for the Tri-County Patriots for Independent Living in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. "We will make a decision as quickly as possible."
Goodell has roots close to Canonsburg, as he graduated from Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania. Longtime NFL referee Gene Steratore, a native of Washington, was a featured speaker at the event.
Before it, Goodell said of Brady's appeal, "There is no timeline. We want to make sure we have a fair and open process."
Brady had appealed his four-game suspension to Goodell, who served as arbitrator, on June 23. Attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who has had success taking on the NFL in other high-profile cases, led Brady's defense and said, "I think we put in a very compelling case."
As part of the appeal, Patriots owner Robert Kraft -- who was out of the country at the time -- sent a sworn affidavit backing Brady. That Goodell served as arbitrator was a point of contention for Brady and the NFL Players Association, which had asked the commissioner to recuse himself because of its belief that he could not be impartial and might be called as a witness. But Goodell, citing the collective bargaining agreement, said it was his responsibility to oversee the hearing and protect the integrity of the league.
Attorney Ted Wells, whose report was used as the foundation for the NFL's decision to suspend Brady, fine the Patriots $1 million and strip them of a 2016 first-round draft choice and a 2017 fourth-round pick, was present at the appeal hearing held at the league's New York offices.
The penalties were announced after Wells found that it was "more probable than not" that the Patriots illegally underinflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts on Jan. 18.
Wells' report was a central part of Brady's appeal, with his attorneys arguing that it didn't prove the quarterback violated rules. In an official letter from NFLPA general counsel Tom DePaso, it was stated that the report "grasps at dubious, contradictory and mischaracterized circumstantial evidence" and that it is a "legally inadequate basis upon which to impose unprecedented discipline."
Brady's side also argued that the penalties are "grossly inconsistent" with the NFL's past discipline of similar alleged conduct.
A source told ESPN's Adam Schefter that "Tom Brady's greatest ally was Tom Brady" in the appeal hearing. Sources also told Schefter that Brady came off as genuine, earnest and persuasive, with one calling it an "A-plus performance."