New England Patriots’ Tom Brady may have found an unlikely ally in his fight against the National Football Association.
According to the Associated Press, Richard M. Berman – the judge who conducts the legal proceedings in the NFL players’ union vs. NFL case – openly attacked the way the league handled the investigation following the AFC Championship game between the Patriots and Indianapolis Colts and may be willing to overturn Brady’s four-game suspension ruling. Judge Berman heard the two sides on Wednesday and wasn’t impressed at all by the league’s legal arguments. Among others, he cited the lack of fairness in the NFL’s internal investigation as the union couldn’t interview executive vice-president Jeff Pash and the lack of reference to the actual AFC Championship game in the association’s conclusion that ultimately led to Brady’s suspension.Berman also mentioned in the hearingthat he couldn’t see “how the four-game (suspension) is comparable to a player using steroids.”
The judge encouraged the two sides to resolve the dispute out of court before the next hearing, on August 31, 2015. On Tuesday, Tom Brady attended the settlement talks between the union’s lawyers and the NFL in New York. Shortly after the meeting, the quarterback departed for West Virginia where he joined his teammates for the joint-practice with the New Orleans Saints. It seems Brady is willing to settle and admit his lack of cooperation in the investigation but he does not want to miss any regular season games. He may accept a fine but not the league’s conclusion accusing Brady of being“at least generally aware” of deflated footballs during the Colts game. If the two sides don’t settle, then both Brady and NFL commissionaire Roger Goodell will have to attend the next court hearing and both will have to accept the judge ruling.
Most likely, the ‘Deflategate’ case will be solved before New England Patriots’ opening game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, on September 10, 2015. Is Brady the man with the edge? Is the league at a disadvantage?
About the ‘Deflategate’ Case
On January 18, 2015, during the AFC Championship between the Patriots and the Colts, after the second-half kickoff, the game officials replaced 12 balls because they weren’t inflated properly. Five days later, the leagues launched an investigation led by NFL vice-president Jeff Pash and independent attorney Ted Wells. On May 6, 2015, the Wells report was released accusing both the Patriots and Tom Brady of knowing about the deflating activities. The reaction was quick and on May 11, 2015, the league suspended Brady for four games and fined New England with a record-tying $1 million plus two draft pick byes. The Patriots didn’t appeal,fully supporting Brady in his case to overturn the four-game suspension. Unfortunately for the franchise, the plan didn’t work: NFL commissionaire Tom Goodell wasn’t impress by Brady’s appeal on June 23 and one month later, he issued a statement backing up the league’s decision. Less than 24 hours later, both the NFL and the players’ union filed lawsuits and the ‘Deflategate’ case went to court.
By: Florian Gheorghe