The NFLPA has officially filed its petition with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals requesting the court rehear New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s appeal of a four-game suspension, claiming that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell “superintended a multimillion-dollar investigation into purported football deflation during the 2015 AFC Championship Game” and “falsely portrayed the investigation as ‘independent.’”
Brady was suspended four games by the NFL, which claimed it was “more probable than not” that Brady was at least generally aware of two Patriots equipment employees allegedly deflating footballs used in the 2015 AFC Championship game below the prescribed level of pressure laid out in the NFL rules. A federal judge overturned the suspension just before the start of the 2015 season, but a three-judge panel reinstated the suspension last month, claiming that Goodell was within his rights to suspend Brady based on the collective bargaining agreement.
“This Union has always stood for protecting the rights of our members. Our filing of this appeal today on behalf of Tom Brady and all NFL players is no different,” NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said in a statement issued Monday. “He was not afforded fundamental fairness and due process as guaranteed by the collective bargaining agreement and case law. We also know that the NFL propped up a now completely de-bunked ‘independent’ report with a made-up standard as the basis for his suspension. For sixty years we have affirmed the right to seek redress for our members and we will always hold the NFL accountable.”
The NFLPA said in its filing on Monday that Goodell’s was “biased, agenda-driven and self-approving” in Brady’s appeal. One of the arguments used by the NFLPA in its 66-page petition says that Goodell used different grounds for justifying his denial of the appeal than what he used in his original disciplinary decision, citing previous case law in claiming that shouldn’t be allowed in appealing a collective bargained sanction.
The three-judge panel that reinstated the suspension in April did so on a 2-1 vote, giving the NFLPA some hope for a successful petition to rehear the appeal.
“The divided panel of the Second Circuit reached erroneous legal conclusions under an unfair and unjust standard,” Theodore Olson, a former US Solicitor General and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher Partner said in a statement on behalf of the players association. “The decision and the standards it imposes are damaging and unfair – not only to Tom Brady – but to all parties to collective bargaining agreements everywhere. Commissioner Goodell cannot sit as an appellate arbitrator and then affirm the league’s initial disciplinary decision based upon a new theory and imagined evidence and pretend to be an unbiased decision-maker.”