Tom Brady May Have to Serve Four-Game Deflategate Suspension After All
You may recall that, when a New York judge overturned the Tom Brady deflategate suspension prior to the 2015 season, the NFL vowed to appeal the decision.
Well, this week that appeal went to court. And judging from the way Brady’s lawyer was sliced and diced by the judges, it’s not looking good for the Patriots QB. He may have to serve that four-game suspension after all.
Of course, at this point the case is not about whether Brady actually participated in deflating footballs. It’s about how the NFL handled the investigatory and disciplinary processes. The original court found that the NFL did not handle these processes appropriately and thus tossed the four-game suspension. What the judges of the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals must decide is whether the decision of the first judge was correct.
The judges presiding over the appeal are Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann, Judge Barrington D. Parker, and Judge Denny Chin. While they certainly expressed some concerns with the way the NFL handled the situation—speculating, for example, whether a four-game ban for a few PSI was a bit “draconian”—the toughest questions were posed of Brady’s lawyer, Jeffrey Kessler.
Parker said Brady’s explanation of the destruction of his phone “made no sense whatsoever.”
Chin said there was “compelling evidence” that Brady tampered with footballs.
Parker suggested the notion that Roger Goodell had a personal vendetta against “one of the most celebrated players in the game” was preposterous.
Chin asked why Kessler had argued that the NFL’s uniform and equipment policy did not apply to the deflation of footballs in the previous case, but was arguing that it did apply in this case.
And Parker suggested that the Commissioner could have suspended Brady for the destruction of the cell phone alone.
In short, the judges don’t seem to be buying Kessler’s argument. So most experts think they’re going to rule against Brady and reinstate the four-game suspension.
Attorney Dan Wallach, who has been all over this case, predicts a 2-1 loss by Tom Brady with the appeal judges.
— Bart Hubbuch (@BartHubbuch) March 3, 2016
My inital take on the NFL appeal hearing: NFL’s likely confident it will win 2 to 1. The judges focused on giving high deference to Goodell.
— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) March 3, 2016
TAKEAWAY: Two of the three judges (Parker and Chin) appeared to favor NFL. That’s all you need to win. BUT, it’s always hard to predict.
— Max Stendahl (@MaxLaw360) March 3, 2016
We’ll find out whether the observers are right in June, when the court is expected to issue it’s decision.