Lawyers for Tom Brady slammed the latest ploy by National Football League attorneys to stop Federal Judge Richard Berman from tossing out the four-game suspension leveled by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in the so-called “Deflategate” affair. On Monday, NFL attorney Daniel Nash sent an official letter to Berman, trying to refute the Brady side’s contention that Goodell’s suspension of Brady was “extreme.”
On Tuesday, NFL Players Association lawyer Jeffrey Kessler, representing Brady, fired back — dismissing Nash and the NFL’s claims as barely worth a response.
How the judge will view the exchange of letters by the warring sides will not be known at least until next Monday, August 31, when Berman has scheduled the next hearing in the case — a hearing at which he says he hopes to hear that the two sides have come to a compromise and settled the case somehow.
But that possibility appears increasingly unlikely, especially after the bitter mail exchange this week.
In the last hearing, August 19, Berman appeared to send a strong signal that he planned to “vacate,” or throw out Goodell’s suspension of Brady, at one point stating that judges find it “difficult” to defer to arbitrators’ decisions, even though in general, they are supposed to do so.
The NFL admits that it has no evidence that Brady engaged in a scheme to deflate footballs in the January 18 AFC Championship Game — the one game in which he was suspected of doing so — but argues that under Article 46 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Goodell has the unquestioned right to make disciplinary decisions and to arbitrate appeals of his own decisions as well.
Kessler cited numerous cases in which previous arbitration decisions were tossed aside by judges, but in Monday’s letter, Nash told Berman that those cases all involved “extreme” or “extraordinary” acts of unfairness by an arbitrator and that Goodell’s decision could not be described that way.
Kessler in his response first scoffs at what he calls the “belated” letter from the NFL, and goes on to state that he will not engage in a “point-by-point” response simply because he has already addressed the supposed concerns raised by Nash.
“NFL’s submission ignores how the denial of fundamental fairness in the arbitration at issue here so closely resembles the denials of fair process in the decisions we presented to the Court,” Kessler wrote.
In other words, Kessler is saying, the NFL letter is rehashing arguments that have already been made and answered in court.
Kessler has said that if no settlement is reached by August 31, he would try to make his decision on whether to lift the Tom Brady Deflategate suspension by September 4 — but he also said that he could not promise to issue a ruling by that date.
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