NFLPA Officially Files Tom Brady Petition in U.S. District Court of Minnesota
On Wednesday, the NFL Players Association officially filed a petition in federal court to vacate the four-game suspension handed down to Tom Brady for his alleged role in the Deflategate scandal.
As expected, the NFLPA took its case to Minnesota and requested that U.S. District Court Judge David Doty be assigned to the case. According to the Associated Press, they requested that Doty overrule the punishment handed down by Roger Goodell by September 4, so Brady can practice with the team ahead of the Patriots’ September 10 season-opener. However, they also asked that if that cannot be done, Doty at least issue a temporary injunction on the suspension that would allow Brady to play until a final decision is reached.
There is no guarantee the case will actually be heard in Minnesota, though. In an attempt to prevent the case from playing out in labor-friendly Minnesota, the NFL filed its own petition in New York on Tuesday asking a federal judge to uphold Brady’s suspension. The District Courts will decide among themselves where the case will be heard.
Of course, at this point you might be wondering about the legal basis for a federal court getting involved in this nonsense at all. And the answer is labor law.
Tom Brady belongs to the NFLPA—which is a union—and the NFLPA has federally regulated legal contracts in place with the NFL that dictate procedures and practices for handing out player discipline.
Obviously, the NFLPA believes these legally binding procedures and practices have been violated.
Here are their five official legal complaints about the way the league handled Brady’s suspension, per their official press release:
- There was no direct evidence in the Wells Report so the discipline was based on a made up “general awareness” standard to justify such absurd and unprecedented punishment.
- Roger Goodell delegated his disciplinary authority to Troy Vincent, violating our Collective Bargaining Agreement, and then as the “arbitrator,” he ruled on his own improper delegation, botching basic arbitration law and fundamental fairness.
- A collectively bargained policy already exists regarding tampering with equipment that provides only for fines, not suspensions. Troy Vincent ignored this policy when he issued his initial discipline. The policy that Vincent did apply to Brady only covers teams and team executives, not players. The NFL once again violated players’ right to advance notice of discipline to try to justify unprecedented punishment.
- No player in NFL history has served a suspension for “non-cooperation” or “obstruction.” And, in this case, the evidence is paper-thin.
- The appeals hearing held on June 23, 2015 defied any concept of fundamental fairness and violated the principles of our CBA.
The NFLPA has a pretty good case. As we pointed out yesterday, the NFL’s claim that Brady “obstructed” their investigation is bovine excrement. And while everyone knows Brady probably was involved in the deflating scheme, the fact is there is no physical evidence.
If the NFL had reduced the suspension to a more reasonable two games, the NFLPA might not have appealed, and the league could have said that punishment fell within their legal discretion. But the fact that Brady has to sit out as many games as a guy who beat up his girlfriend (Greg Hardy), combined with the NFL’s shady smear tactics (this business about Brady destroying his phone) left the NFLPA no choice.