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Deflategate Four Game Suspension Reversed by Federal Judge

Deflategate, Lawyers & Football

One week before the first New England Patriots game of the 2015 NFL season a federal judge in New York overturned quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for allegedly ‘being aware’ that air was being let out of footballs.

Deflategate, as the scandal came to be known, started when critics claimed air pressure was reduced in footballs used in a January 2015 championship game.

That’s when New York Criminal defense attorney Ted Wells entered the scene, tasked by NFL brass to “investigate”.  The Wells report claimed that Tom Brady was “generally aware” that Patriots staffers were letting air out of footballs during the championship game.  Based on that general language, NFL Commissioner Rodger Goodell levied fines and suspended Brady from four games.

Then, Deflategate went to “arbitration”, one main problem being that the arbitrator was … Commissioner Goodell.  Now, one of the basic concepts of arbitration is that an arbitrator is expected to be a nautral unbiased party.   But the fact that the deflategate arbitrator was none other than the commissioner was the beginning of the undoing of the NFL’s hard stand.

Essentially, Judge Richard M. Berman threw out Brady’s four-game suspension, citing a flawed disciplinary process that denied Brady’s basic legal rights including the right to examine evidence against him, and the right to question a key witness who edited the Wells Report against him.

It’s a full victory for Brady on every front and a significant rebuke of the NFL.

Massachusetts School of Law Dean Michael Coyne.

The National Football League has appealed and this blog will be updated when required, as it has been several times.  rules, officials, regulations and policies.

Deflategate Background

NFL officials hired attorney Ted Wells on the heals of accusations that the New England Patriots depressurize footballs in the January 18, 2015 playoffs so the ball would be easier to throw and catch.  Initial investigation supposedly found 11 of 12 balls below the regulation 12.5 pounds.

Attorney Wells was named one of America’s best white-collar defense attorneys by the National Law Journal.  Top clients include Scooter Libby, convicted in 2007 for perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI.  Wells also successfully defended Citigroup against two multi-billion dollar lawsuits.

Emerson College Survey:  57% Say No Big Deal

I’m not big on surveys.  Boston’s Emerson College conducted a national survey the weekend after the conference championship, revealing 47% of those asked believed the New England Patriots are “cheaters”.  39% of those polled by the Emerson College Polling Society do not believe Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady when they say they “knew nothing” about the doctored footballs.

But, a 57% majority of those polled say the scandal is not a big deal.  In the interest of full disclosure, my undergraduate degree is from Emerson College.  A great school, by the way.

Physics and Football

I’m no physics expert.  Neither was anyone else in the early days of “deflategate”.  But I have vague memories of high school physics.  A very simple physics concept, kind of like what goes up must come down, holds that pressure of a gas is a function of volume and temperature.

No one seems to have addressed some really basic stuff here or to have applied simple concepts to back up the vague and foggy allegations against the Patriots.  Last I heard my high school physics teacher was seen pumping gas.  He would have been available.

Why Did NFL Hire Top Defense Attorney?

They say that attorney Wells pursued far better investigations than federal prosecutors in other cases.  In one scorched earth probe he created a 142 page report on the Miami Dolphins scandal, pressing his team to interview 100 witnesses.  Wells is a top rate defense attorney. Does the NFL need a defense, having fanned the flames of a controversy with no real hard facts, no named witnesses, no tangible theory apparent to fans hanging on every word?

Especially at a time when Patriots players, coaches and others need to focus every smidgeon of physical and mental energy to the immense challenge of Superbowl preparation? Who knows?  I don’t.  Sportswriters are having a good time cracking puns like “letting the air out” and a lot more.

One of the fun things about football and baseball is following “the game” and seeing people who are tops in their field go toe to toe.  Most of us sitting on the couch couldn’t do any of it.  Watching is great fun.  I’m not sure football is a place for lawyers.  Even though I am one.  It takes something out of the game when the thing gets tangled up in prolonged legal processes.

Remember, the NFL has appealed this latest development and word is that appeals in that circuit usually take about 10 months.

Click here for the Emerson Poll.

Attorney Andrew D. Myers is a Personal Injury Lawyer in Massachusetts and New Hampshire who also practices bankruptcy and civil litigation.

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Attorney Myers is a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association, Massachusetts Academy of Trial Lawyers, and New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association. The Law Offices of Andrew D. Myers offer a broad range of legal services in personal injury cases in Massachusetts (MA) and New Hampshire (NH) areas.

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