Everything you need to know about the NFL Deflategate saga and Tom Brady’s overturned suspension.
U.S. District Judge Richard Berman overturned the suspension NFL commissioner Roger Goodell imposed on Tom Brady for his alleged involvement in the Deflategate scandal, news of which first surfaced during the January 2015 AFC Championship between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts.
Here are seven things you need to know about Berman’s decision.
1) The ruling did not speak to the validity of the NFL’s claims against Brady. Berman wrote, “An arbitrator’s factual findings are generally not open to judicial challenge, and we accept the facts as the arbitrator found them.” In other words, whether or not Brady cheated was not the focus of his appeal.
2) The judge found fault in the legal process. Specifically, he determined that Brady did not have access to the investigative files and witness notes. There was also “inadequate notice of Brady of both his potential discipline… and his alleged misconduct.” Finally, Berman cited lack of testimony from the NFL general council Jeff Pash.
3) This ruling does not end the saga. The NFL has indicated it will appeal Judge Berman’s decision, but that it will not prevent Brady from playing as it undertakes this latest step in the legal process. Via NFL.com, Goodell said, “We will appeal today’s ruling in order to uphold the collectively bargained responsibility of the game.”
4) This is the latest defeat for Roger Goodell and the NFL. Recently, Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, the New Orleans players involved in Bountygate, and the NFL employees in the state of Missouri have all successfully won cases against the commissioner that limit his power by questioning his role as arbitrator and impugning the process through which punishments over personal conduct are handed down.
5) Goodell does not have as much power when it comes to drug-related infractions. It is important to note that the NFL and the NFLPA came to an agreement in the 2014 collective bargaining agreement that provides for structured, uniform consequences for both recreational drug use and the use of performance-enhancing substances.
6) Other players are already questioning the legitimacy of past fines and suspensions handed down by Goodell. Oft-antagonized Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison tweeted, and then appeared to delete:
Dallas Cowboys DE Greg Hardy is also considering appealing his four-game suspension in light of the Brady decision:
7) Brady will be on the field against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite the NFL’s intent to appeal, they have indicated they will not attempt to interfere with the quarterback’s participation in the regular season as the next step of the process unfolds.
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