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Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for Deflategate was overturned Thursday morning.
The decision to overturn the suspension is a disaster for the NFL. They now either have to file an appeal and drag on the case, stubbornly, for months, or let it go and set a precedent where players can appeal any punishment.
Roger Goodell now looks more vulnerable than ever. In the past year, the NFL’s punishments have been highly questioned, and now they just got defeated in court by one of the world’s most popular players.
In light of the decision the NFL Players Association released a statement and hammered Goodell, stomping on his grave in the process. The statement reads (emphasis is ours):
The rights of Tom Brady and of all NFL players under the collective bargaining agreement were affirmed today by a Federal Judge in a court of the NFL’s choosing. We thank Judge Berman for his time, careful consideration of the issue and fair and just result.
This decision should prove, once and for all, that our Collective Bargaining Agreement does not grant this Commissioner the authority to be unfair, arbitrary and misleading. While the CBA grants the person who occupies the position of Commissioner the ability to judiciously and fairly exercise the designated power of that position, the union did not agree to attempts to unfairly, illegally exercise that power, contrary to what the NFL has repeatedly and wrongfully claimed.
We are happy for the victory of the rule of law for our players and our fans. This court’s decision to overturn the NFL Commissioner again should signal to every NFL owner that collective bargaining is better than legal losses. Collective bargaining is a much better process that will lead to far better results.
This has been a recurring complaint from players and fans alike. In the last lockout, the players conceded and gave Roger Goodell power to rule on cases, thus allowing him to determine punishments. Now, after several botched jobs — Ray Rice and Brady, among them — Goodell looks borderline incapable of handling this role.
Though the NFL reportedly plans to file an appeal, players, perhaps more than ever, feel empowered over Goodell and the league. If players reasonably feel they have a shot at getting a punishment overturned, they could attack Goodell and the league, taking them to court and hoping to erase or lessen their punishments.
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