Brady files appeal: Tom Brady Files Appeal

Published: December 9, 2015

Brady files appeal: Tom Brady Files Appeal, Attorneys for New England quarterback Tom Brady have hit back at the NFL’s attempt to have a federal appeals court reinstate the four-game suspension against the QB, saying the judge was not “star-struck” by Brady’s “celebrity.”

Lead attorney Jeffrey Kessler, who helped write the 63-page response to the NFL’s “Deflategate” appeal, argued that U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman was right when he overturned NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to suspend Brady for the first four games of this season.

“The district court was neither star-struck by ‘celebrity’ nor unaware of the legal standards for judicial review of arbitration awards,” Kessler wrote. “Nor did the court vacate the award based on any disagreement with the facts found by Goodell. … [T]he court recognized that judicial deference in reviewing arbitral awards is not synonymous with a rubber stamp, and that Goodell’s award had to be vacated because it was anathema to the CBA’s notice requirement, specific collectively bargained remedies, and fundamental fairness.”

Kessler argued that Goodell’s decision to suspend Brady for maybe being aware of footballs that may have been partially deflated before last year’s AFC Championship “violated the essence” of the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the Players’ Union. He wrote that Brady “lacked notice that he could be disciplined” for his “alleged ‘awareness’” of the football deflation.

Kessler also argued that Berman’s decision should stand because Goodell’s arbitration process was “fundamentally unfair.” He said Brady didn’t have access to certain investigative files and wasn’t allowed to interrogate Jeffrey Pash, an attorney who co-authored the Wells Report – an NFL-funded investigation that found Brady was culpable in a ball-deflation scheme.

“Judicial deference to arbitration awards is not equivalent to a rubber stamp,” Kessler wrote. “Courts must vacate awards where the arbitrator defies the essence of the CBA by declining to discuss the applicable collectively bargained penalty in favor of his own brand of industrial justice.”

If the appeals court were to side with the NFL, Kessler asked it to either send the case back to U.S. District Court for further proceedings or, alternatively, to uphold Berman’s ruling because Goodell was not an impartial arbitrator. Berman declined to rule on that argument when the case was in his court.

The NFL must reply to Kessler’s response by Dec. 21. Both sides will argue their case on March 3, 2016 in New York.

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