SAN FRANCISCO -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says it's his responsibility to hear directly from New England quarterback Tom Brady in his appeal of his four-game suspension in the deflated footballs case.
Goodell said Wednesday he has not had time to study a request from the players' union that he recuse himself from the appeal because he has been focused on the spring owners meetings.
But Goodell says unless there is a factor that he is unaware of he will likely hear the case. Goodell says he wants to hear directly from Brady about his role in the use of underinflated footballs in the AFC championship game.
"We continue to have an open mind," Goodell said of the appeals process.
Goodell also said that Patriots owner Robert Kraft's decision not to appeal the team's "Deflategate" penalty was made without pressure from the NFL.
"The decision Robert made was his decision," Goodell said. "We've had plenty of discussions over the last couple of weeks. And this was his initiative and something he wanted to do. I certainly admire the step he took."
The Patriots were fined $1 million and docked a first-round draft pick next year, and a fourth-rounder in 2017 after an independent investigation determined footballs used by the team in the AFC title game were purposefully deflated below regulation.
The Patriots will lose a first-round draft pick next year and a fourth-rounder in 2017.
"When the discipline came out, I felt it was way over the top," Kraft said, adding that if he had made his decision last week, "I think maybe it might have been a different one."
But after further consideration, he cited "believing in the strength of the (NFL) partnership and the 32 teams" for dropping any appeal plans.
Kraft also recognized the powers given to Goodell.
"Although I might disagree in what is decided, I do have respect for the commissioner, and believe he is doing what he perceives to be in the best interest of the 32," Kraft added.
In addition to the fines against the Patriots organization, Brady, the Super Bowl MVP, was "suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2015 regular season for conduct detrimental to the integrity of the NFL."
An appeal of that punishment was filed by the NFL Players Association last week on Brady's behalf. The union asked for a neutral arbitrator to hear the case, though the league's collective bargaining agreement stipulates that it will be decided by Commissioner Roger Goodell or a person he designates.
"Given the NFL's history of inconsistency and arbitrary decisions in disciplinary matters, it is only fair that a neutral arbitrator hear this appeal," the union said in a news release.