NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced on Sept. 3 the league plans to appeal a ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman that wiped out a four-game suspension given to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in relation to Deflategate.
League Source Reportedly Confident Brady Will Serve Suspension
Friday, Sept. 25
Craig Carton of WFAN passed along comments from a league source who was sure Brady would serve his suspension after the league's appeal of Berman's ruling:
Carton said that he was with a “very influential person in the NFL” on Thursday. Carton said the person told him “there’s no doubt in his mind” that Brady will serve a four-game suspension this season after the NFL’s appeal is heard.
However, the NFL said, per Pro Football Talk, that "It is highly unlikely that the appeal will be decided before the end of the season."
Goodell released a statement shortly after Berman's decision was made public which confirmed the NFL was planning to appeal in an effort to "protect the integrity of the game," as noted by Kevin Patra of NFL.com:
We are grateful to Judge Berman for hearing this matter, but respectfully disagree with today's decision. We will appeal today's ruling in order to uphold the collectively bargained responsibility to protect the integrity of the game. The commissioner's responsibility to secure the competitive fairness of our game is a paramount principle, and the league and our 32 clubs will continue to pursue a path to that end. While the legal phase of this process continues, we look forward to focusing on football and the opening of the regular season.
Larry Neumeister and Tom Hays of the Associated Press first reported the decision from Judge Berman. He called out Goodell for utilizing "his own brand of industrial justice" and stated the punishment was based on "several significant legal deficiencies."
Although the NFL is planning to move forward with an appeal, Brady is now eligible to play next Thursday when the Patriots open the regular season against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
That's because Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reports the league isn't expected to seek an injunction to keep the quarterback on the sideline while the legal battle rolls on. Andrew Brandt of ESPN also reported Brady is free to play during the appeal.
While the NFL attempts to retain the power to handle punishments, the process in which they are levied is now facing serious criticism. Trey Wingo of ESPN spotlighted the league's recent losses that have brought the issue to the forefront:
There's no immediate timetable to complete the next step in the appeal process. Unlike the initial appeal, when all sides agreed a decision should be reached before the new season began, Brady and Co. probably won't be nearly as urgent as the case moves forward now that he's free to play.
Brady's availability brightens the outlook for the Patriots as they begin the defense of their Super Bowl title. There was concern about where the team would stand if he missed four games, but now, he'll be out there for Week 1 and beyond due to Judge Berman's ruling.