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  • John Hazelet

On to Pittsburgh...

In what has become the focus of the football and sports media world, Tom Brady and the NFL Players Union scored a major win in federal court today having his 4 game suspension vacated. The suspension was handed down by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for Tom Brady’s roll in the Deflategate scandal and most importantly (in the eyes of the NFL) Brady’s lack of cooperation in the investigation lead by Ted Wells and known as The Wells Report.

The arbitration case was nullified by Judge Richard M. Berman in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Berman cited the grounds for his decision as follows.

“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 to examine one of two lead investigators, namely NFL Executive Vice President and General Counsel Jeff Pash; and (C) denial of equal access to investigative files, including witness interview notes,” the filing read. Berman went on to say. “Because there was no notice of a four-game suspension in the circumstances presented here, Commissioner Goodell may be said to have ‘dispense(d) his own brand of industrial justice.’ ”

This ruling is a major loss to 31 of the NFL’s 32 owners and most importantly it’s a huge public hit to the NFL Commissioner. The league has appealed this decision.

Roger Goodell released the following statement.

"We are grateful to Judge Berman for hearing this matter, but respectfully disagree with today’s decision, We will appeal today’s ruling in order to uphold the collectively bargained responsibility 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. While the legal phase of this process continues, we look forward to focusing on football and the opening of the regular season."

The importance of this appeal can not be understated. Goodell’s claim that this ruling is a violation of the CBA will be the basis of his appeal. The Collective Bargaining Agreement or “CBA” is a ratified agreement that both players and owners agree to follow. In that agreement the players awarded the Commissioner the power to have “final say” on all discipline matters. Which if you ask most people is ridiculous. However, it was collectively bargained and approved by the players. In my opinion, that gives the NFL great grounds to possibly win this appeal. If that happens, Brady will have to serve a suspension somewhere down the line.

In the meantime, Brady will be the starting QB for the Patriots next Thursday against the Steelers. The small victory for the NFL and ultimately a huge one for NBC is that the ratings for this game should be off the charts. As Bill Belichick would say… On to Pittsburgh

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