Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension was nullified by Judge Richard Berman. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Judge Richard Berman ruled in favor of Tom Brady and vacated his four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate. Berman issued his ruling in a 40-page document, which can be found here.
Here are the biggest takeaways:
— “There were several legal deficiencies, including 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 NFL and Roger Goodell said they based the four-game suspension as an equivalent to a suspension for steroids. The court did not back that claim, stating, “Brady also had no notice that his discipline would be the equivalent of the discipline imposed upon a player who used performance enhancing drugs.” It added, “it cannot, as a matter of law, serve as adequate notice of discipline to Brady. It also cannot reasonably be used as a comparator for Brady’s four-game suspension.”
Also, Berman writes it is “law of the shop” to give players notice for potential discipline and matters and Brady wasn’t given any.
— The ruling also goes into the “general awareness” aspect of the case, which was the main finding of the Wells Report. Berman says,”as a matter of law, no NFL policy or precedent notifies players that they may be disciplined (much less suspended) for general awareness of misconduct by others. And, it does not appear that the NFL has ever, prior to this case, sought to punish players for such an alleged violation.”
— Berman also had an issue with the NFL claiming Ted Wells was an independent investigator, as five times in the document quotation marks were used around the word “independent.”
— The NFL didn’t have co-lead investigator Jeff Pash at the arbitral hearing, which Berman called “fundamentally unfair.” He added, “It is also problematic to the Court that there was no specification by Goodell as to the ways Pash’s testimony would have been ‘cumulative.'”
With Pash not at the hearing, Berman says Brady was “prejudiced.”
— The conclusion reads: “For the reasons stated herein, the Management Council’s motion to confirm the arbitration award [ECF No.4] is denied and the Players Association’s motion to vacate the arbitration award [ECF No. 28] is granted. Brady’s four-game suspension is vacated, effective immediately.”
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