The NFL and NFL Players Association previously agreed that documents submitted as evidence in New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s Deflategate court case would remain confidential. Tuesday, U.S. district judge Richard Berman ruled that the confidentiality agreement should be removed for litigation.
With everything now public record, the NFL doesn’t exactly look very good. More importantly, the information in that transcript could help the court rule in Tom Brady’s favor, effectively ending his four-game suspension, according to Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann.
After reading the entire 457-page transcript, McCann raises several great points. He focuses mainly on Brady’s persistent denial that he did anything illegal or against league protocol — knowingly or otherwise — and that Brady technically denied everything under oath. McCann points out that sticking with his story under oath lends credence to the fact that Brady understood there is considerable risk in doing so.
In other words, Brady could be punished far more severely than missing football games for committing perjury if he was lying during the appeal, which lends credibility to his side of the story.
But here’s what most Patriots fans are dying to hear, via McCann:
“(Tuesday’s) disclosures could advantage Brady. This seems particularly true in regards to the NFL’s contention that Goodell, as the hearing officer of Brady’s appeal, was partial. As the transcript shows, Goodell’s attorneys worked with Wells in editing drafts of his report. Wells’ reference to the attorney-client privilege with the NFL in response to questions by Kessler likely also troubles Judge Berman in evaluating whether Goodell could have been fair. After all, Goodell would have essentially had to rule against multiple people who work for him to rule for Brady. Judge Berman may conclude that the deck was inescapably stacked against Brady from the start. …
“Judge Berman will likely warn Brady and the NFLPA that if he issues a ruling on the merits, it will be based primarily on the lawfulness of the process used by the NFL to judge Brady. That analysis would be different from whether Brady actually partook in a ball deflation scheme. In other words, Judge Berman could have serious doubts that Brady “did it” and yet still rule for the NFL because he reasons that the NFL adequately applied Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement. This may seem like a counterintuitive conclusion, but Judge Berman is not ruling on whether Brady is guilty of the underlying accusations but rather on how lawfully the NFL evaluated those accusations.”
Based on the rest of McCann’s article, he seems to believe that the NFL did not lawfully evaluate the accusations against Brady. If Judge Berman agrees with McCann’s assessment, Brady’s suspension likely would be overturned.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images