DEVELOPING STORY: Court Rules Tom Brady Must Serve 4-game ‘Deflategate’ Suspension

AP Editorial

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal appeals court has ruled that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady must serve a four-game “Deflategate” suspension imposed by the NFL, overturning a lower judge and siding with the league in a battle with the players union.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday in New York. The decision by a three-judge panel, which ruled 2-1, may end the legal debate over the scandal that led to months of football fans arguing over air pressure and the reputation of one of the league’s top teams.

The decision stated, “We hold that the Commissioner properly exercised his broad discretion under the collective bargaining agreement and that his procedural rulings were properly grounded in that agreement and did not deprive Brady of fundamental fairness.”

Chief Judge Robert Katzmann dissented. Katzmann’s opinion stated,  “I am troubled by the Commissioner’s decision to uphold the unprecedented four‐game suspension. The Commissioner failed to even consider a highly relevant alternative penalty and relied, instead, on an inapt analogy to the League’s steroid policy. This deficiency, especially when viewed in combination with the shifting rationale for Brady’s discipline, leaves me to conclude that the Commissioner’s decision reflected ‘his own brand of industrial justice.'”

In a statement, the NFLPA said it was disappointed by the 2nd Circuit’s decision.

We fought Roger Goodell’s suspension of Tom Brady because we know he did not serve as a fair arbitrator and that players’ rights were violated under our collective bargaining agreement,” the statement said. ” Our Union will carefully review the decision, consider all of our options and continue to fight for players’ rights and for the integrity of the game.”

The decision is also likely to fuel a fresh round of debate over what role, if any, the quarterback and top NFL star played in using underinflated footballs at the AFC championship game in January 2015.

The appeals ruling follows a September decision by Manhattan Judge Richard Berman that went against the league, letting Brady skip the suspension.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell insisted the suspension was deserved.

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