Tom Brady's appeal of Deflategate suspension ends after 10 hours

NEW YORK -- No details of Tom Brady's appeal of a four-game suspension were immediately available after a 10-hour hearing, but a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter that "Tom Brady's greatest ally today was Tom Brady."

Sources also told Schefter that Brady came off as genuine, earnest and persuasive, addressing every issue raised in the league-sanctioned Wells report during Tuesday's long meeting.

One of the sources called it "an A-plus performance."

Brady was suspended by the NFL for his role in the use of deflated footballs in the Patriots' AFC Championship Game win over Indianapolis in January. He arrived at the NFL's Park Avenue offices Tuesday morning, as did attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who is leading Brady's defense.

Brady now must wait to find out whether his appeal carried any weight with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

It was growing dark when Goodell left the league headquarters after he heard Brady and representatives from the players' union. League security said Brady also had left.

The hearing was expected to adjourn in late afternoon but carried well beyond that.

Patriots owner Bob Kraft, who is on a trip to Israel with a group of Pro Football Hall of Famers, sent a sworn affidavit backing Brady. One source said the affidavit was very compelling and had "almost a holy feel to it."

"I think we put in a very compelling case," Kessler said, adding that no timetable on a decision by Goodell had been given.

Kessler said he would have no further comment Tuesday night.

While Goodell was hearing myriad testimony, Brady supporters were outside, some wearing "Free Brady" T-shirts. At least until the rains came, that is.

Some reporters joked that the meeting lasted so long because a summer storm was hitting the city and no one wanted to leave the building in such weather.

But just past 8:30 p.m. ET, the principals headed out.

The NFL Players Association had asked Goodell to recuse himself from hearing the appeal because he could not be impartial and might be called as a witness. But Goodell said it was his responsibility to oversee the hearing to protect the integrity of the league.

Based on the Wells report, Brady was suspended and the Patriots were fined $1 million and docked a pair of draft picks.

Among the key elements of Brady's appeal: who ordered his four-game suspension and whether science supports the league's findings about deflated footballs.

The NFL says Goodell authorized the discipline that was imposed by league executive Troy Vincent, who signed the letters sent to Brady and the Patriots informing them of the penalties. The NFLPA challenged Vincent's power to issue punishment, citing Article 46 of the league's collective bargaining agreement.

Goodell dismissed the union's claim.

"I did not delegate my disciplinary authority to Mr. Vincent; I concurred in his recommendation and authorized him to communicate to Mr. Brady the discipline imposed under my authority as Commissioner," Goodell said in his letter to the union June 2. "The identity of the person who signed the disciplinary letter is irrelevant."

The penalties were announced after investigator Ted Wells found that the Super Bowl champions illegally used underinflated footballs in the AFC title game.

Vincent has issued several fines and penalties for various infractions since replacing Ray Anderson as the NFL's executive vice president of football operations in March 2014.

He suspended former Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather two games in September 2014 for a helmet-to-helmet hit on a receiver. In several other cases, he fined teams or punished team officials for violating rules.

The NFLPA didn't question Vincent's authority in those incidents.

Goodell issued punishments to Greg Hardy, Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice in recent, high-profile cases involving players violating the league's personal conduct policy. The league doesn't consider Brady's case similar because it involved rules of the game.

Scientific arguments also were a major part of Brady's defense. Brady's lawyers tried to shoot down the findings of an independent firm hired to provide scientific analysis of the air pressure inside the footballs used by the Patriots and Colts during the AFC title game.

Brady's side claimed:

• The evidence collected in the Wells report doesn't prove Brady violated any NFL rules.

• The punishment is harsher than for similar violations.

While Brady is fighting his punishment, Kraft declined to appeal the team's penalty, though he defended his franchise player and denied any wrongdoing by team employees.

If Brady's suspension isn't overturned, the battle could end up going to court.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.