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Tuesday, June 25, 2024
HomeNewsSportsTom Brady Wins Appeal Against NFL, Judge Overturns DeflateGate Suspension

Tom Brady Wins Appeal Against NFL, Judge Overturns DeflateGate Suspension

Roger-Goodell-Tom-Brady-AP
Roger-Goodell-Tom-Brady-AP

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady were unable to reach a settlement in the “Deflategate” scandal. (PHOTO: AP)

A federal judge has tossed out the NFL imposed four-game suspension on New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady for his alleged role in DeflateGate, a conspiracy to deflate footballs below the allowable limit at last season’s AFC championship game.

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman handed down his written decision one week to the day before the Sept. 10 season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Judge Berman had to either uphold the suspension or throw it out completely, but could not author a lesser punishment for Brady. Judge Berman said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell went too far in affirming punishment of the Super Bowl winning quarterback in a case the NFL claimed threatened the very integrity of the game.

“With respect to ‘general awareness’ of others’ misconduct — which is the principal finding in both the Wells Report and the Vincent Letter — Brady had no notice that such conduct was prohibited, or any reasonable certainty of potential discipline stemming from such conduct,” Judge Berman wrote in his decision. “The court concludes that, as a matter of law, no NFL policy or precedent notifies players that they may be disciplined (much less suspended) for general awareness of misconduct by others.”

The decision came as a surprise to some legal experts and NFL followers who believed Berman wanted the league to settle and was reluctant to get involved in collective bargaining disputes. Nevertheless, the Brady camp, the NFL union and Patriots fans are all rejoicing in the decision that allows Brady to begin preparing for the first game of the season.

“This decision should prove, once and for all, that our Collective Bargaining Agreement does not grant this Commissioner the authority to be unfair, arbitrary and misleading,” the NFL Players Association said in a statement. “While the CBA grants the person who occupies the position of Commissioner the ability to judiciously and fairly exercise the designated power of that position, the union did not agree to attempts to unfairly, illegally exercise that power, contrary to what the NFL has repeatedly and wrongfully claimed.”

Commissioner Goodell made his decision based upon the findings of an investigation conducted by New York-based attorney Ted Wells, which was released in May. However, the report stopped short declaring it a fact that the balls were deliberately deflated on Brady’s orders. Yet, the NFL’s threshold for imposing discipline requires merely a finding of strong probability of wrongdoing, and the report found that it was “more probable than not” that Brady was “at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities” in the balls being deflated. Brady’s attorney, Don Yee, called the outcome of the report pre-determined, and Judge Berman somewhat seemed to agree.

“With respect to ‘general awareness’ of others’ misconduct — which is the principal finding in both the Wells Report and the Vincent Letter — Brady had no notice that such conduct was prohibited, or any reasonable certainty of potential discipline stemming from such conduct,” Berman wrote in his decision. “The court concludes that, as a matter of law, no NFL policy or precedent notifies players that they may be disciplined (much less suspended) for general awareness of misconduct by others.”

Worth noting, the Patriots absolutely routed the Colts by a 45-7 score in the Jan. 18 AFC Championship game, propelling them to their win at the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. Brady, who was named the MVP, finished the game with 37 completions in 50 attempts for 328 yards and four touchdowns, winning his fourth Super Bowl ring.

The NFL has the option to appeal the judge’s decision, and has had some success in the past with overturning appellate decisions. However, a request for comment from the commissioner was not immediately returned by the NFL.

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