A federal judge exonerated New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady from the accusations of deflating footballs below the allowable limit, eliminating his four-game suspension.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman said the disciplinary process of the National Football League was “fundamentally unfair.” Berman also criticized NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for displaying “his own brand of industrial justice” and that the penalty enforced by Goodell had “several significant legal deficiencies,” which included not informing Brady about the possibility of a punishment against him, as reported by BBC.
“The court finds that Brady had no notice that he could receive a four-game suspension for general awareness of ball deflation,” Berman wrote.
Brady was accused of deflating footballs less than the permissible limit at last season’s AFC Championship Game.
Goodell’s investigation had said that Brady “knew about, approved of, consented to, and provided inducements and rewards” for the deflation of the footballs, which are believed to be easier to throw and catch.
In a statement, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said that having a contract with the NFL does not provide Goodell “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,” Smith said.
“We are happy for the victory of the rule of law for our players and our fans.”
The new ruling will allow Brady to play against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the September 10 season opener. In the Week 1 game, the Patriots moved from 3-point favorites to 6.5-point favorites, and the over/under total increased from 48.5 points to 51 at William Hill’s Nevada sportsbook. According to a Steelers source, the team is not happy with the ruling coming out just a week before the game but they at least know which Patriots quarterback they will be playing against.
Goodell said in a statement that he and the NFL “respectfully disagree” with the judge’s decision. He further said that they would appeal 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,” Goodell said.
According to NBC News, the decision was praised by the NFL Players Association.
“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,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith said.
You might also be interested in: US Army To Start Allowing Women Admissions To Elite Ranger School