Former federal prosecutor John Dowd wasn’t surprised in the least that Judge Richard Berman vacated Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension on Thursday.

But the bigger story to Dowd goes beyond the Patriots’ star quarterback being able to play starting next Thursday night against the Steelers.

What matters to him is the miscarriage of justice by the National Football League and how they can correct their disciplinary process going forward. Dowd, the author of DeflategateFacts.com, is the man who successfully helped Major League Baseball bring charges against Pete Rose and George Steinbrenner in the late 80s and early 90s. Those cases resulted in suspensions that held up and were not overturned.

The reason?

“I think we did do it right in Major League Baseball, and it wasn’t like it was in any book,” Dowd told WEEI.com by phone Thursday. “We just thought being fair about it, that was the way to do it, and so we did. I don’t know any other way to put it. You think about it, a man’s fortune, his reputation, his profession. Pete Rose, George Steinbrenner, the commissioner I worked for cared deeply about the rules, fairness, integrity, transparency because the fans own the game, and you want the confidence of the fans in the game, in the discipline you apply. Why football doesn’t do that is beyond me.”

But the bigger issue to Dowd here is what the NFL can learn from this and how they can improve a disciplinary process that is clearly flawed. But to fix it, the NFL must first acknowledge its system is broken. Dowd has his doubts.

“The NFL is really hard to predict what they’re doing. They’re so full of themselves,” Dowd said. “They made such fundamental errors here. To me, they’ve got to sit down and recognize what happened here, and take a look at the five suggestions I made to guarantee [fairness]. What you want is confidence in the discipline that’s imposed in the game. You want the players to respect it, live by it, etcetera. If you do it fairly and thoroughly and honestly, they will.

“There’s no magic formula. Those are the ingredients of justice. It applies administratively. It applies under the collective bargaining agreement, it applies in the court of law. That’s the way we do things in this country and it’s important to the game that people have confidence in the game, that it’s being played honestly but also the rules are being enforced honestly. And if someone has a question about it, you can litigate it and deal with it. I don’t know any other way to describe it.”

Here are five simple changes the NFL could make to its disciplinary process going forward. While these recommendations are just a start, they would help the League restore basic fairness, transparency and consistency.

1. Hire an independent Special Counsel’€”mutually agreed upon by the League and the NFL Players Association’€”with criminal trial experience, integrity, and fairness, who is free of conflicts, maintains no other business or relationship with the League, and remains committed to devoting his or her full time to the completion of a confidential, leak-free investigation.

2. Enable the player’€™s counsel to raise, confidentially, any objections to the League’€™s handling of the investigation for an immediate ruling within one week by Special Counsel, who should be required to notify all parties as the investigation progresses.

3. While failure to cooperate by the player should remove the player from the field until full compliance, failure to cooperate by the Commissioner or the League should void the inquiry until full compliance. Failure to cooperate means any endeavor to frustrate, impede or obstruct the inquiry’€”including leaking information relevant to the investigation.

4. Upon completion of the inquiry, Special Counsel should make a confidential draft report with interviews and exhibits available to both sides for expeditious comment. The full working papers of Special Counsel shall be available to assist in examining witnesses or providing additional evidence, and both sides may examine any witness interviewed by Special Counsel. All suggestions and comments of both sides shall be considered and duly noted by Special Counsel in the public Final Report.

5. The standard of proof for the Special Counsel and any ensuing arbitration shall be ‘€œbeyond a reasonable doubt.’€ Arbitrators shall be experienced, independent, and unbiased’€”as well as selected and agreed to by both parties. If the parties fail to agree with five days, the Special Counsel shall have the power to select the Arbitrator to hear the case. The Arbitrator shall hold a full and fair hearing with all witnesses and evidence available on the final record.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter joined Merloni and Fauria Thursday following Judge Richard Berman vacating Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension.

Adam Schefter

Adam Schefter

ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter joined Merloni and Fauria Thursday following Judge Richard Berman vacating Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension. To hear the full interview, head to the Middays with Merloni & Fauria audio on demand page.

“We can debate what Tom Brady did and didn’t know and what he did and didn’t do,” Schefter said. “I think here the NFL got excoriated for the process and the investigation and the report that it issued, which you heard and read Judge Berman issuing that ruling — he renamed it ‘Pash-Wells Report,’ which I thought was fairly telling. It’s a situation where this was about the process, the procedure, protocols, the precedent and in this case Judge Berman bought none of it.”

While many many now think Robert and Jonathan Kraft may have an issue with Roger Goodell, Schefter said that doesn’t seem like the issue and the issue is with the lawyers. He added Goodell’s job is safe.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen initially,” he said. “Will there be long-term fallout? Yes. I’ve been talking to one owner this morning and he was like, ‘Roger Goodell is not in jeopardy here, Roger is fine.’ [It] was pointed out that the Kraft’s are supposedly fine with Roger Goodell.”

“My sense is they have more of an issue with the lawyers there with anyone else,” he added.

Schefter said the NFL believed all along they were going to win the case because of Article 46, but sitting in the courtroom and listening to Judge Berman, Schefter wasn’t so sure.

“The NFL chose this and then it essentially declined to participate in any meaningful settlement talks because the only way the NFL was settling was if Tom Brady admitted to the findings of the Wells Report, which he never, ever, in our lifetimes was going to do,” Schefter said. “That also fathomed me. I have no legal background, but I’m listening to the judge and saying, ‘How can you be so sure of your case?’ They were extremely confident in 46 they were going to win because otherwise they would have offered to settle not to have this to happen today.”

The line of “Commissioner Goodell may be said to have ‘€˜dispense[d] his own brand of industrial justice” in Judge Berman’s ruling stood out to Schefter.

“He used that line in court a couple of weeks ago,” Schefter said. “I believe it was Aug. 18 during the second appearance and the judge trotted it out there and Jeffrey Kessler the attorney said, ‘That’s exactly right, judge. It was his own brand of industrial justice.’ And they were laughing about it — Kessler and Berman, almost laughing at the NFL for doing that. In the courthouse. I’m sitting there saying, ‘How can the judge say this and rule on the behalf of the NFL?”

In the end Schefter wasn’t shocked Brady won the case and will be on the field Sept. 10 when the Patriots host the Steelers at Gillette Stadium.

“The fact of the matter is, and this cannot be changed, is when the Patriots kick off the season one week from tonight, Tom Brady will be under center,” Schefter said. “There’s no NFL executive, official, officer, investigator that is going to prevent that from happening right now.”

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Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

A motivated Tom Brady likely means bad news for the rest of the NFL.</p>
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Patriots owner Robert Kraft issued a statement Thursday afternoon, shortly after Judge Richard Berman cleared quarterback Tom Brady.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft issued a statement Thursday afternoon, shortly after Judge Richard Berman cleared quarterback Tom Brady.

“As I have said during this process and throughout his Patriots career, Tom Brady is a classy person of the highest integrity. He represents everything that is great about this game and this league. Yet, with absolutely no evidence of any actions of wrongdoing by Tom in the Wells report, the lawyers at the league still insisted on imposing and defending unwarranted and unprecedented discipline. Judge Richard Berman understood this and we are greatly appreciative of his thoughtful decision that was delivered today. Now, we can return our focus to the game on the field.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Tom Brady has every reason to celebrate after beating the NFL in court. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)Roger Goodell thought he could make up the rules as he went along.



Shortly after Judge Richard Berman made his decision in the Deflategate case Thursday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued the following statement through the league:

Shortly after Judge Richard Berman made his decision in the Deflategate case Thursday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued the following statement through the league:

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.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Following Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension being vacated, the NFLPA released a statement thanking Judge Richard Berman and also said it is “happy for the victory of the rule of law for our players and our fans.”

The full statement reads: