The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the NFL and the NFLPA, the Constitution and Bylaws of the NFL, and to some extent, the Official Playing Rules of the NFL are in play... see Rule 2.
One of the parties to the CBA - the NFL, the employer, hired a criminal attorney, Ted Wells, to investigate Tom Brady. Here is a link to the report produced by Wells. While reviewing the report, keep in mind my post on Attorney-Client Fee Agreements.
Do yourself a favor and read through the executive summary of the report. It's extremely thorough and good. Way better than any incident report filed by a law enforcement agency. It is not even a close call whether it is more probable than not that Brady knew about the balls. As the report says, a "contrary conclusion requires the acceptance of an implausible number of communications and events as benign coincidences."
Although Brady didn't give up his cell phone, the ball boys - Jastremski (Equipment Manager) and Jim McNally (Official Locker Room Attendant) did.
The text messages between these geniuses is powerful evidence. Tom Brady's agent / lawyer - Don Yee, guaranteed Brady would appeal. He has, and has retained Jeffrey L. Kessler. Yee had said "the discipline was ridiculous and had no legitimate basis."
Jonathan Vilma said he would "tell Brady to fight the emotion of defending himself publicly, lawyer up and begin to devise a plan to beat the NFL ..."
According to SB Nation, Brady's legal team was enough to convince one of Adam's Schefter's sources that the suspension will be overturned.
"Brady's team is unreal," the source said. Talented big name lawyers: Yess, Kessler, etc. Prediction=won't miss a game."Below are some relevant parts of the CBA.
15. INTEGRITY OF GAME. Player recognizes the detriment to the League and professional football that would result from impairment of public confidence ... Commissioner will have the right, but only after giving Player the opportunity for a hearing at which he may be represented by counsel of his choice, to fine Player in a reasonable amount; to suspend Player for a period certain or indefinitely
19. DISPUTES. During the term of any collective bargaining agreement, any dispute between Player and Club involving the interpretation or application of any provision of the NFL collective bargaining agreement or this contract will be submitted to final and binding arbitration ...