NFL commissioner Roger Goodell won't say whether he'll recuse himself from New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady's appeal of his punishment over "Deflategate."
Goodell addressed a handful of reporters' questions on the deflated footballs scandal — and the league's decision to fine the team $1 million and two draft picks, and to suspend its star player for four games — at a press conference Wednesday at the owners' meeting in San Francisco.
"We put the game ahead of everything," he said, calling the decision to suspend Brady for four games and fine him "difficult."
Goodell also said the lack of cooperation by Brady and the team "was a factor" in the discipline they received.
"I have great admiration and respect for Tom Brady, but the rules have to be enforced," he said. "They apply to everybody in the league."
Goodell said he isn't sure if a date has been set yet to hear Brady's appeal, but noted that that appeal will likely hinge on whether there is any new information the quarterback is able to present.
"We're always open if there is new information that can get us to a better place," he said.
Goodell's comments came a day after the New England Patriots' owner said his team wouldn't appeal the league's "Deflategate" penalty.
Speaking from the NFL owners' meetings in California, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he decided to accept the punishment in an effort to "end the rhetoric." He said that while he still believes the penalty handed down was "unreasonable and unprecedented," he respects Commissioner Roger Goodell.
"The entire process has taken way too long," he said. "I can try to end it, or extend it."
Kraft also acknowledged that his position on how to handle the situation has changed.
"I think maybe if I made the decision last week it would be different than it is today," Kraft said.
The NFL fined the Patriots $1 million and took away two draft picks as punishment for the deflation of footballs below the league-mandated minimum for the AFC championship game.
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