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NFL Files for Expedited Appeal in Deflategate Lawsuit

05-Oct-2015

After it was discovered that New England Patriots used under-inflated footballs in the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts in January 2015, the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for four games. Prior to the suspension, Brady, who has always maintained that he was involved with intentional football tampering, said that he would fight back if he were disciplined as a result of Deflategate.

He was true to his word, and in August, a judge vacated Brady's suspension.  

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman's ruling in Brady v. NFL made no mention of the quarterback's guilt or innocence in the matter. Rather, he made his decision "significant legal deficiencies" in the way the NFL handled Brady's suspension. In his ruling, Judge Berman listed three such deficiencies: 

(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

While the ruling was certainly a win for Brady, who says he was punished without any evidence of misconduct, others say it was an even bigger win for the NFL Players' Association, which accuses the league--and Commissioner Goodell, in particular--of handing down arbitrary discipline "without regard for previously established policies."

The judge's decision has been called a "stunning smackdown" and a "scathing rebuke" of the league and its commissioner.

So, not surprisingly, the league has filed an appeal of Judge Berman's decision. What may be surprising is that the league has not only filed an appeal, but also filed an expedited appeal. Legal analysts say that the NFL's chance of winning the appeal of Brady v. NFL is slim, and even with an expedited appeal, the case will have little effect on the 2015 season. It would not, in any likelihood, be resolved until the 2016 season, meaning that even if the NFL ultimately wins, any suspension Brady faces would not take place this season.

Even if the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals did overturn Berman's ruling, there is a good chance the Court would remand the case back to Berman--in which case he could rule on other issues presented initially that he declined to address in the initial court case.

And if the NFL loses its appeal? It is more fuel for the fire the NFLPA is building under Commissioner Goodell. 



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