Patriots QB Tom Brady throws a pass during the first half of the AFC championship game. (Charles Krupa/Associated Press)

Tom Brady is set to meet with an arbitrator next week to appeal the four-game suspension he was handed following the release of attorney Ted Wells’s report on DeflateGate. Of course, that arbitrator is none other than NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has staked a fair amount of his credibility on how that scandal has been handled, so Brady’s chances of getting the punishment lifted don’t look great.

Nevertheless, the quarterback and representatives from the NFL Players Association are planning a vehement rebuttal of the charges in the Wells report, and they will seek to have the suspension lifted in its entirety. That news came Tuesday from ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio, who told the network that he had gone over a four-page document sent from the NFLPA to Troy Vincent, the league executive who officially handed Brady and the Patriots their punishments.

[Patriots partied out with their huge, 205-diamond Super Bowl rings]

“In talking to people who are close to this situation, Brady wants the entire suspension removed, and he wants to be exonerated,” Paolantonio reported. “He feels he has done nothing wrong, and if you listen to [team owner] Bob Kraft, it’s pretty clear that the Patriots believe that they will have Tom Brady for the Thursday night opener [of the NFL season].”

Paolantonio said that the quarterback’s team at next week’s appeal hearing will “attack the Wells report as, quote, dubious, contradictory and mis-characterized circumstantial evidence that does not prove that Tom Brady deliberately ordered an illegal tampering with the footballs.”

The ESPN reporter also said that the nature of Brady’s punishment will be questioned, given that the league’s explicit sanction for teams in such situations is a $25,000 fine. Paolantonio noted that Brady makes $470,588 per game, meaning that a four-game suspension will cost him $1,882,352 in paychecks.

“I think that [the Patriots are] very optimistic that Roger Goodell is going to have an open mind at this appeal hearing,” Paolantonio later told Boston radio station WEEI. “I think, and it’s pretty clear to me, that if they don’t get relief from Goodell, that Brady and his lawyers are prepared to go to court and file suit against the NFL.”

“If he gets the suspension reduced to two games and then he accepts that, he’s basically accepting guilt and I don’t think he wants to accept any guilt whatsoever in this situation,” Paolantonio added, “because while the commissoner is trying to protect the shield, Tom Brady is trying to protect how he’s going to be remembered.”