A federal judge nullified New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his alleged role in deflating footballs before the 2014 AFC championship game. (Reuters)

Tom Brady and the players’ union have beaten the NFL in court, putting one of the sport’s biggest stars back on the field when the season opens next week after a contentious and polarizing battle with the league.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman overturned the league’s four-game suspension of Brady, the four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the New England Patriots, in the long-running DeflateGate case. Berman’s ruling was released Thursday.
“Based upon the foregoing and applicable legal authorities, the Court hereby denies the [NFL] Management Council’s motion to confirm the Award and grants the Players Association’s motion to vacate the Award, thereby vacating the four-game suspension of Tom Brady, effective immediately,” Berman wrote.

The decision makes Brady eligible to play next Thursday against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL’s season-opening game.
The NFL, however, announced that it will appeal the ruling. The NFL’s appeal will be made to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
“We are grateful to Judge Berman for hearing this matter, but respectfully disagree with today’s decision,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a written statement released by the league. “We will appeal today’s ruling in order to uphold the collectively bargained responsibility to protect the integrity of the game. The commissioner’s responsibility to secure the competitive fairness of our game is a paramount principle, and the league and our 32 clubs will continue to pursue a path to that end. While the legal phase of this process continues, we look forward to focusing on football and the opening of the regular season.”
[Roger Goodell: Despite DeflateGate loss, his power remains intact]
The NFL’s appeal will not keep Brady off the field. The league has no plan to seek a stay of the ruling reinstating Brady, an NFL official said, meaning that Brady will remain eligible to play during the appeal process. The league’s appeal does mean that Brady potentially is risking having to serve the suspension, if it is reinstated via the appeal, later this season or perhaps beyond. The NFL also seems intent on …Read More