Tom Brady’s camp finally fired back Monday.
In case you forgot, the New England Patriots quarterback still is involved in the ongoing legal battle that is Deflategate. The NFL appealed U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman’s decision to vacate Brady’s four-game suspension back in September, and Brady’s lawyers have responded.
In a 73-page document filed Monday to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Brady’s legal team, led by attorney Jeffrey Kessler, explained why Berman was correct in vacating the suspension handed out by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. At the center of Kessler’s response was the following: Goodell abused the power given to him under the league’s collective bargaining agreement to hand out a severe punishment that was without precedent.
“No player in NFL history had ever received a suspension for alleged football tampering or failing to cooperate with a League investigation,” Kessler wrote. “Goodell, however, issued an award affirming a four-game suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on this basis. In so doing, Goodell never even mentioned the applicable and collectively bargained penalty — a fine — the only penalty of which the NFL had given notice to players. Instead, Goodell applied his own ultra vires remedy in defiance of the CBA.” (Emphasis theirs)
In arguing that Goodell crossed the line with his punishment, Kessler noted the Wells Report never actually found Brady was guilty of deflating footballs, instead concluding it was “more probable than not” he was “generally aware” of his equipment staff’s alleged inappropriate activities.
“The Report did not find that Brady participated in or directed any ball deflation,” Kessler wrote. “Nevertheless, relying upon the findings above and Brady’s ‘failure to cooperate’ by declining to produce private emails and texts, NFL Executive Vice President Troy Vincent suspended Brady for four games.”
Kessler also denied Brady’s unique celebrity status had any affect on Berman as he made his ruling.
“The district court was neither star-struck by ‘celebrity’ nor unaware of the legal standards for judicial review of arbitration awards,” Kessler wrote. “Nor did the court vacate the award based on any disagreement with the facts found by Goodell. … (T) he court recognized that judicial deference in reviewing arbitral awards is not synonymous with a rubber stamp, and that Goodell’s award had to be vacated because it was anathema to the CBA’s notice requirement, specific collectively bargained remedies, and fundamental fairness.”
Check out the full response below.
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Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images