Judge nullifies Tom Brady's four-game suspension in DeflateGate case – Washington Post
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, at least for now.
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, can appeal the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
[Roger Goodell: Despite DeflateGate loss, his power remains intact]
Legal experts had said that Brady and the NFL Players Association faced a difficult task in court because judges generally are reluctant to overturn arbitration decisions. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld Brady’s four-game suspension on appeal. The league had imposed the penalty after its investigator, Ted Wells, found that Brady probably was aware of a scheme to use under-inflated footballs during the first half of last season’s AFC title game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The league argued in court that Goodell’s authority in the matter could not be challenged under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the union. But the NFLPA contended that Goodell acted improperly, and Berman agreed.
[The NFL’s most powerful owners]
Berman cited in particular the league’s failure to notify Brady that he faced a potential suspension, and the NFL’s failure to allow league counsel Jeff Pash to testify at Brady’s appeal hearing.
“The Court is fully aware of the deference afforded to arbitral decisions, but, nevertheless, concludes that the Award should be vacated,” Berman wrote. “The Award is premised upon several significant legal deficiencies, including (A) inadequate notice to Brady of both his potential discipline (four-game suspension) and his alleged misconduct; (B) denial of the opportunity for Brady …Read More