Tom Brady’s legal team and the NFL will be back in court in New York Thursday at 2 p.m. as the NFL will appeal Judge Richard Berman’s decision to vacate Tom Brady’s four game suspension for allegedly being "generally aware" of a conspiracy to deflate footballs in last year’s AFC Championship Game. Metro spoke with sports legal expert and Cozen O’Connor litigator Jason Bonk about what could - finally - be the conclusion of the Deflategate saga.
The three judges have already been presented with detailed arguments from both sides. Brady’s team and the NFL’s team will both argue for around 15 minutes each. Judges have the opportunity to interject during arguments and typically do, according to Bonk.
A decision is not expected for months.
Two of the three judges are liberal judges and liberal judges typically rule in favor of labor (in this case, Brady). The winning side needs two of the three judges to agree on a ruling. It’s majority, not unanimous.
What will they argue?
The NFL will again hammer the CBA and say that Berman did not apply the law properly in his ruling. In the agreement reached between the NFL and NFL Players’ Association, Roger Goodell had full right to do what he did in terms of the hearing process, league investigation and discipline – the NFL will argue.
“Appellate expert” Paul Clement is now the NFL’s lead attorney.
Brady’s team will argue on behalf of Judge Berman’s decision, which slammed the NFL’s so-called “independent investigation” and Goodell’s decision to rule on the matter himself.
“The NFL compared Brady’s violation to PEDs, which looks even worse now with Peyton Manning in the news (for alleged HGH use).
“There has to be a clear error by Judge Berman and it’s just not there. I predict that the judges will affirm. Judge Berman’s decision was carefully crafted. Berman talked about the unfairness and the evidence that was excluded – primarily the issue of Jeff Pash editing the Wells Report. I think that obviates the idea of clear error [by Judge Berman].
“Judge Berman is well regarded and you have two liberals on a three person panel. That said, if it was reversed and Berman ruled in favor of the NFL and the CBA [originally], I would say Brady would have no chance of winning at the appeal level.”
If the NFL “loses,” will they take it to the Supreme Court?
“The Supreme Court turns down hearings all the time. It’s not going to the Supreme Court. If it does, I don’t know if I believe in being a lawyer anymore [laughs].
“Judges at these levels have very little patience for ridiculous issues. We’re still talking about deflated footballs.”