Hey, Deflate-Gate Is Back! NFL Files Appeal to Brady Ruling

Here we are, nine months later, still talking about balls that aren't firm enough...EXPAND
Here we are, nine months later, still talking about balls that aren't firm enough...

Sometimes you need a little jolt from the outside to realize just how dire your current situation is. As a Texans fan, it was bad enough falling behind 42-0 to Atlanta and then 41-0 in ONE HALF to a 2-3 Dolphins team, never mind that your backup quarterback was forced to fly with the C group on Southwest to even make it to Miami. But really, TRULY, how bad has it gotten for me?

Well, it's gotten so bad that I am actually HAPPY to have some Deflate-Gate news! OH, DEFLATE-GATE, HOW I MISSED YOUR LOVING TOUCH! SNUGGLE WITH ME, RICHARD BERMAN!!!

Yeah, phrases like "PSI" and "most likely aware of" are things again, as the NFL filed a 143-page appeal (God, I should have been a lawyer…) to Judge Berman's decision to vacate New England QB Tom Brady's four-game suspension handed down this past summer by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for Brady's perceived role in (or at least knowledge of) a scheme to slightly deflate one or more footballs prior to New England's 45-7 thrashing of the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game.

In handing down the original decision to overturn the suspension, Berman cited inadequate notice from the league to Brady on his discipline and alleged misconduct, the denial of the opportunity for Brady's attorneys to depose NFL general counsel Jeff Pash, and denial of equal access to investigative files as reasons for overturning Brady's punishment.

The NFL's counterargument to that, captured in the appeal (which can be read in its entirety, if you're into 143-page appeals, at the bottom of this post), is that the league and the commissioner acted within the rights granted them in the collective bargaining agreement with the players:

"Stripped of its celebrity, this case involves a straightforward exercise of authority expressly granted under a collective bargaining agreement ("CBA") and shielded from collateral attack by decades of precedent concerning labor arbitrations. The National Football League's collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association affords the NFL Commissioner broad authority to impose discipline for conduct "detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence in, the game of professional football." Exercising that authority, which mirrors the broad discretion given to commissioners in other sports to ensure the integrity of the game, the Commissioner suspended Tom Brady, quarterback on the New England Patriots, for four games after finding that Brady had participated in a scheme to deflate game balls to be used in a conference championship game. The scheme was aimed at gaining and unfair competitive advantage on the field, and it was devised to avoid detection by game officials. It struck at the heart of the game's integrity and the public's confidence in the NFL's on-field product. The Commissioner's conduct detrimental authority exists for incidents just like this."

(NOTE: Apparently, the commissioner found "Brady had participated in a scheme to deflate game balls." That's news to me that they found assuredly that he'd participated. Nice appeal.)

At this point, it's very clear that the NFL's actions are less about making sure Tom Brady sits out four games and more about making sure that Roger Goodell's dictatorship on discipline remains intact. The Brady reversal threatens Goodell's authority way more than the deflation of footballs threatens the integrity of the game, and the last thing Roger Goodell wants is for every player to be able to march his discipline into a federal courtroom and have a judge examine Goodell's often hackneyed process. To wit, more wording in the appeal:

"Not every evidentiary or procedural ruling went in Brady’s favor, but the CBA gives the Commissioner the authority to make those determinations and he reasonably resolved every contested issue. The Commissioner’s ultimate determination was elaborately reasoned and thoroughly grounded in the CBA."

So now, again, we wait. Somehow, I think eventually this whole Deflate-Gate thing ends up involving Ryan Mallett in some shape, form or fashion. 

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.                 

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