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Goodell: Completely sure Brady suspension is right


As NFL commissioner Roger Goodell prepares to open the 2016 season without Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, he remains convinced he made the right decision to suspend him.

"Yes, because we went through a very exhausting process with this," Goodell said on The Today Show in an interview airing in full this Wednesday, when asked if he was '100 percent sure' he got it right. "We had an independent investigation. We had a federal judge who ruled against it. It went to appellate court. The appellate court at that point in time said, listen, there's compelling if not overwhelming evidence here. There's absolutely no question that the destruction of evidence should be considered by the commissioner in the context of this and the process was properly followed. We collectively bargained the process for discipline, we went through that, and I can't think of an issue that's been more litigated by the way."

Goodell suspended Brady for four games after it was determined that it was "more probable than not" that Brady was aware of Patriots staffers taking the air out of footballs before the AFC Championship Game against the Colts back in January of 2015. After some legal ping pong between the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman, the suspension was nullified and eventually reinstated. Jimmy Garoppolo will take the field for New England Sunday night against the Cardinals.

Brady will return Week 5 against the Browns in Cleveland.

Goodell was also asked about the increasing number of NFL players raising awareness for social issues during the national anthem. NBC's Matt Lauer specifically wanted to know if he was "proud" of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem.

"Listen, I support our players speaking out on issues that they think need to be changed in our society," he said. "We don't live in a perfect society, Matt. Our players have strong views about things so I support our players speaking out against that. But that's what the focus should be on, the changes he wants to see in our society."

The Seattle Seahawks are among a few teams that are planning something special for the anthem during opening Sunday. NFL Network's Mike Robinson, a former Seahawks player, has more on their plans here.

"I think when our players speak out and they feel strongly and passionately about something, I think it's a good thing for us," Goodell said in a follow up to a question about whether he is proud of Kaepernick. "What I do believe though is the respect for our country -- the people who fought for those freedoms and those values, the people who protect us here and abroad, I think those are very important. We're very -- and you're going see it on Sunday -- we're a patriotic league."