Welcome to the newest edition of The Why. “Why did the NFL lose the Deflategate decision?” Good question. (OK, it’s very “current events but it gives us the chance to once more dodge some of your inquiries on odder, intimate activities. Seriously? We thought “Sandbag” was just football slang, mmmkay?)
In case you missed it, Tom Brady, quarterback for the New England Patriots, will be back in his football uniform for the first game of the National Football League (NFL) season. (We’ve discussed earlier episodes of this escapade in previous editions of this very series in fact.
We previously explained why the NFL would lose and they have. The NFL was inconsistent in their application of their disciplinary measures. Our guest speaker, Marc Lancaster, contributor to Sporting News, confirms they were “arbitrary and inconsistent” which is a well-known, “common theme for Roger Goodell and Co.”
Judge Richard Berman specifically noted that the punishment Goodell gave Brady was “premised upon several significant legal deficiencies, including (A) inadequate notice to Brady of both its 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.”
Lancaster added that Berman also stated that the NFL equated “Brady’s alleged transgression with that of a player caught using performance-enhancing drugs based on the length of the suspension. He wrote in the ruling that Brady had ‘no notice’ of what the penalties would be for either tampering with footballs or failing to cooperate with a league investigation. “
Berman also declared that the NFL’s steroid policy . . . “cannot reasonably be used as a comparator for Brady’s four-game suspension for alleged ball deflation by others” and non-cooperation with the investigation.
Berman also noted that the NFL’s decision to base its discipline on the conclusions from the Ted Wells investigation, which claim that Brady was “generally aware” of the ball deflation, wasn’t reasonable. “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. “
Lancaster also reports that “Berman ruled that the NFL’s refusal to make Pash, its top attorney, available to union lawyers during Brady’s appeal hearing violated the league’s own precedent: ‘players must be afforded the opportunity to confront their investigators.’ Berman called the move ‘fundamentally unfair’ to Brady’s case.”
Finally, Berman wrote that the NFL failed to allow Brady’s attorneys to see Wells Report source material. He stated: “”The interview notes were, at the very least, the basis for the Wells Report, and Brady was prejudiced by his lack of access to him.”
Why did the NFL lose the Deflategate decision? Now you know.
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