The National Football League fiasco known as Deflategate finally came to a close July 15, when Tom Brady announced via his Facebook page that he would be accepting the four game suspension.
Deflategate began Jan. 18, 2015, when reports arose that questioned the use of “deflated footballs” in the Patriots AFC Championship victory versus the Indianapolis Colts.
The NFL then appointed Ted Wells to investigate the situation. The Ted Wells report found that “it is more probable than not” that Jim McNally and John Jastremski, two Patriots staff members, participated in deflating balls and that “it is more probable than not” that Tom Brady was aware of the activities.
Based on these findings, the NFL announced Tom Brady has been suspended without pay for four games for violating the NFL policy on the integrity of the game and the Patriots would be fined $1 million and will forfeit a 2016 first round and 2017 fourth round selection in the NFL Draft.
The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) filed an appeal on Tom Brady’s behalf to fight his punishment. This marked the beginning of over a year of back and forth appeals, briefs, trials and hearings between the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFLPA and Tom Brady.
Following a denial of Brady and the NFLPA’s petition for the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear his suspension case, taking the case to the U.S. Supreme Court became Brady’s last chance to revoke the punishment he faced.
The court decided in favor of the NFL. The majority opinion 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.” The ruling also emphasized that the court’s decision was more about upholding the power of the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and ensuring that Goodell did not overstep his authority as commissioner.
The case Brady v. NFL is clearly not about deflated footballs. It is about the power of the commissioner, the implications of the CBA and fairness towards players.
Brady’s suspension details were released last week. The provisions include: no contact with any member of the Patriots’ coaching staff, no contact with other players and no football communication with the club. Brady can’t “engage in any team football-related activities or discussions with teammates, even if away from the club facility.”
The looming questions remains as to whether Goodell exercised his authority granted by the CBA in an appropriate manner. However, Brady has lost this case and will only be eligible to return to play Oct. 9 against the Cleveland Browns.