Appeals court reinstates Tom Brady’s 4-game ‘Deflategate’ suspension
NEW YORK (April 25, 2016) — An appeals court ruled Monday that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady must serve a 4-game suspension for “Deflategate.”
In September, a lower court threw out Brady’s suspension after a pair of hearings in August. U.S. District Judge Richard Berman said in the previous decision that the NFL had botched the investigation into the case, which erupted after the AFC Championship Game in 2015. The league investigated allegations that Brady had used underinflated footballs in a 45-7 thrashing of the Indianapolis Colts.
The Patriots won the Super Bowl that season. Berman took the NFL to task for inconsistently applying punishment in the case, not allowing Brady and his legal team to examine lead investigator Jeff Pash and failing to give Brady and his legal team equal access to investigative files.
Berman said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell “dispensed his own brand of industrial justice” concerning the Deflategate scandal.
But the saga wasn’t over yet. The NFL appealed last year’s ruling, and attorneys for both side presented their arguments in March. A three-judge panel in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the NFL Monday. Two judges ruled in favor of the NFL while the third ruled in favor of Brady and the NFLPA.
From Monday’s ruling:
We hold that the Commissioner properly exercised his broad 20 discretion under the collective bargaining agreement and that his 21 procedural rulings were properly grounded in that agreement and 22 did not deprive Brady of fundamental fairness. Accordingly, we 23 REVERSE the judgment of the district court and REMAND with 24 instructions to confirm the award.
The decision could end the legal debate over the long-simmering case.
In addition to Brady’s punishment, the league also fined the Patriots $1 million and took away two draft picks.
The NFLPA, which fought the suspension on Brady’s behalf, responded with a statement:
The NFLPA is disappointed in the decision by the Second Circuit. We fought Roger Goodell’s suspension of Tom Brady because we know he did not serve as a fair arbitrator and that players’ rights were violated under our collective bargaining agreement.
Our Union will carefully review the decision, consider all of our options and continue to fight for players’ rights and for the integrity of the game.