Tom Brady has NFL Deflategate ban overturned

Judge rules New England Patriot quarterback’s four game suspension is nullified

Tom Brady’s four game suspension for his part in the Deflategate scandal has been overturned by a judge. Photograph: Bloomberg

Tom Brady’s four game suspension for his part in the Deflategate scandal has been overturned by a judge. Photograph: Bloomberg

 

Tom Brady’s decision to take the Deflategate scandal to federal court has paid off, with US district judge Richard Berman ruling that the New England Patriots quarterback’s suspension should be nullified after the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, had dispensed “his own brand of industrial justice”.

Brady had been suspended for the first four games of the NFL season after a report, conducted by investigator Ted Wells, found that he was “generally aware” that Patriots officials deliberately deflated footballs during the team’s victory over the Indianapolis Colts in last season’s AFC Championship game.

When Brady appealed to the league against the suspension Goodell upheld the ban in July and said that Brady had deliberately destroyed his cell phone after it had been requested by Wells and his staff. Following the Goodell’s ruling, Brady took the case to federal court.

However, Berman ruled that the NFL had gone too far in its punishment of Brady and the suspension was “premised upon several significant legal deficiencies”. The judge also said Brady had no notice that he could receive a ban for participating in, or being aware of, ball deflation. “Because there was no notice of a four-game suspension in the circumstances presented here, Commissioner Goodell may be said to have ‘dispensed his own brand of industrial justice,”’ Berman ruled.

“Brady also had no notice that his discipline would be the equivalent of the discipline imposed upon a player who used performance enhancing drugs,” the judge added.

Brady has vehemently maintained his innocence over the incident. “I will not allow my unfair discipline to become a precedent for other NFL players without a fight,” he said before taking his case to federal court. Negotiations between the league and Brady, represented by the NFL players’ union, lasted for a month but the two parties failed to reach a settlement. The decision is a surprise to many, and that could include Brady himself who was reportedly willing to take a reduced suspension of one game. The league can still choose to appeal against Berman’s decision.

“The rights of Tom Brady and of all NFL players under the collective bargaining agreement were affirmed today by a Federal Judge in a court of the NFL’s choosing. We thank Judge Berman for his time, careful consideration of the issue and fair and just result,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement.

“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. 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.

“We are happy for the victory of the rule of law for our players and our fans. This court’s decision to overturn the NFL commissioner again should signal to every NFL owner that collective bargaining is better than legal losses. Collective bargaining is a much better process that will lead to far better results.”

Brady will now be available for the Patriots’ season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on 10 September. Before the decision came in the Patriots had been expected to start with Jimmy Garoppolo, who had failed to stand out in his pre-season performances.

Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks to have played in the NFL, and has won four Super Bowls with the Patriots. He has also been named league MVP twice and selected for the Pro Bowl 10 times.

The Patriots were fined $1m and docked two draft picks for their role in the scandal but chose not to appeal their punishment.

(Guardian service)

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