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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Deflategate: Brady wins his season back as judge overturns NFL suspension


Courtesy of Keith Allison

Tom Brady and the New England Patriots won the AFC Championship in January by thrashing the Indianapolis Colts 45-7. Nothing seemed out of character about the way the Patriots’ offense took advantage of a poorly executed Colts defense on their way to the Super Bowl.

However, multiple reports arose after the game stating that Brady and the Patriots had used under-inflated footballs in the first half of the game.

Brady held a press conference two days after the game to address the issue and appeared to be nervous and unsure of himself, two traits not synonymous with the Patriots superstar quarterback.

What followed became a national storyline that few seemed to understand. It would take more than eight months for the situation to resolve itself as it did on Thursday morning, and even now the end is not in sight.

The NFL had a rough end to the calendar year of 2014 and that momentum has carried well into 2015.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, in particular, has received a lot of backlash for his role in the punishments of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. Goodell came out of those situations prepared to make harsher punishments on future rule offenders to defend the integrity of the league.

Deflategate has been a public relations nightmare for the NFL and it started because of Brady’s four-game suspension for his supposed involvement in the violation.

When Goodell handed down the suspension for a violation that seemed equivalent to having too much pine tar on a baseball bat, most of the public was surprised. The NFL had clearly laid down the law and made an example of one of its most darling franchises.

Brady immediately appealed the suspension and was ready to plead his case. Usually in an NFL appeal case, the negotiation has a third party arbitrator who is there to help move along the proceedings. In the special case of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, however, Goodell was allowed to step in and arbitrate an appeal directly involving the very people he hired to investigate the Patriots.

Brady and his team were ready to fight the decision all the way to court, leaving the NFL in a precarious position. By nullifying Brady’s suspension, they would almost be admitting defeat.

If they were to reduce it to anything but zero games, Brady was reportedly ready to battle in court and would accept nothing less than his suspension being fully removed. This left the NFL with one option: keep the suspension at four games, go to court and try to make Brady seem like the bad guy.

The case was handed to New York Judge Richard Berman and he immediately set up settlement negotiations in an effort to keep the case out of court. The league almost immediately reported that Brady had “destroyed” his cell phone before meeting with the league to avoid uncovering text messages.

This made it seem as if Brady was clearly at fault in the situation because he was trying to get rid of evidence. Brady and his team countered that he disposes of his cell phone every couple of months and that this was a common practice for him.

Berman warned both sides to tone down their “rhetoric” in regards to their arguments. He could see that the NFL was trying to smear Brady’s name in the court of public opinion. Berman was very harsh on the NFL in the proceedings, citing that they lacked evidence and punished Brady with no precedent.

Still, the general consensus seemed to point to the NFL winning the case. They had operated within the CBA that the players agreed upon. They were allowed to suspend Brady any way they saw fit.

The NFL’s grave mistake was punishing Brady too severely and having the spotlight of the case switch from whether or not the balls were deflated, to if they followed correct procedure in punishing Brady.

Berman ruled in favor of Brady on Thursday and, somewhat shockingly, nullified Brady’s entire four-game suspension.

The NFL, and especially Goodell, have taken a massive public relations hit throughout the case and they now have no choice but to see it drag on to the next rounds of litigation.

The NFL faces an even larger uphill battle, in terms of public relations, with their appeal. Another loss in the second circuit of the courts could mean serious change within the NFL offices.

Even with a victory, the NFL will most likely watch Brady play all 16 games this season as their appeal probably will not be heard for a few months. Unfortunately, this story is not going away any time soon and the NFL can only thank themselves for that.

The Patriots will kick off the NFL regular season Thursday at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Brady will be under center. Goodell is planning not to be in attendance because he has decided it would be best for him to attend another opening weekend game.

Follow Chris Deak on Twitter.

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