May 24, 2019
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Tom Brady to appeal Deflategate ruling

Mark J. Rebilas | USA Today Sports
Mark J. Rebilas | USA Today Sports
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reacts as he leaves the field following the game against the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

NEW YORK — New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on Monday asked a U.S. appeals court to reconsider its ruling reinstating his Deflategate four-game suspension, saying the decision runs contrary to federal labor law.

“The panel decision will harm not just NFL players, but all unionized workers who have bargained for appeal rights as a protection,” his lawyers said in a motion filed with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.

Brady, 38, was suspended after the NFL found underinflated footballs were used in the Patriots’ 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts in January 2015’s AFC championship game.

The victory propelled the Patriots to the Super Bowl, where they beat the Seattle Seahawks, giving Brady his fourth title.

The NFL suspended Brady, twice the league’s most valuable player, after a lawyer hired by the league to investigate the incident said the quarterback was “generally aware” two Patriots employees had conspired to deflate the balls, which could make them easier to grip.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the suspension in July, prompting a lawsuit from the players union. The quarterback has denied knowing about any plan to deflate footballs.

In a split 2-1 decision last month, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York reversed a lower court’s ruling that threw out his penalty.

On Monday, which was the deadline for an appeal, the union and Brady asked for an “en banc” review, in which the court’s entire roster of 13 active judges would rehear the case.

The 2nd Circuit is known among federal appellate courts for rarely granting such requests. It has held only one en banc hearing since October 2013.

If the court denies the motion, the players union could then appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

An NFL spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in New York overturned Goodell’s decision in September, ensuring Brady could play the entire 2015 regular season. The judge found Brady did not have the required notice that he could face a long suspension for his alleged conduct.

But the 2nd Circuit panel ruled the labor deal between the league and the union gave Goodell “especially broad” disciplinary authority.

Brady’s motion on Monday said Goodell’s decision would undermine labor arbitrations everywhere and “runs roughshod over the rule of law.”

The union’s legal team includes former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson, who appeared earlier on Monday on ABC to announce the appeal. Olson represented the players’ union during labor negotiations in 2011 and also argued the two Bush v. Gore cases that arose out of the 2000 presidential election.

 



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