I called it months ago, after reading articles about the behavior of the courts involved in the Tom Brady “Deflategate” case. My predictions and their integrity were questioned because of my well-known disdain for the New England team, its coach, and its quarterback. No, I’m not a fan. But my predictions were not based on the propensity to bend the rules which has been demonstrated by Belichick in the past but on the realities of the New York area federal court systems.
Here are the facts.
1. This case was not about the “facts of the case.”
It’s not about what Brady did or what Brady knew or when he knew it. That was determined in the NFL’s investigation and the Brady people chose to attack less on the basis of the facts but on the fairness of the process. The investigator’s findings stand as the facts of the case.
But the simple truth is that once this hit the courts, it was no longer supposed to be about whether or not Brady was guilty, but whether the agreed-to process was followed. Did the NFL violate the process spelled out in the collective bargaining agreement?
2. The NFL had the right to do what it did.
If you think the NFL was unfair, then blame the Players Association. The NFLPA agreed to this process in negotiations. Roger Goodell may well be a no-good so-and-so, like most of New England and Skip Bayless think he is, but he had the right as the commissioner of the NFL to do exactly as he did.
The NFLPA agreed to give him that right. I’m guessing the next time around, negotiations will focus on getting this process changed, but the NFL acted within the process.
One of the most amazing things about all of this is that the NFLPA agreed to this disciplinary process. Roger Goodell had the right to not only make the finding but also hear the appeal. Is that fair? We can argue it all day. But the NFLPA did agree to that process.
3. The courts are not supposed to interfere in collectively-bargained union agreements.
When a case goes through the union agreement process the courts are not supposed to substitute their judgment for that of the arbiters of the process. The NY lower courts are evidently well-known for ignoring this and inserting their judgment into the process and replacing the wisdom of the arbitration and appeals process the union and management have agreed to. They uniformly side with unions and against management.
The court is not supposed to substitute their judgment for that of the arbiters in the agreed-to process, but to simply make sure that the agreed-to process was followed.
4. These lower court decisions are routinely overturned by the court of appeals.
The 2nd Court of Appeals routinely reverses the lower court’s interference in the union vs. management process. That is what they are supposed to do.
It’s pretty simple and the conclusion is not about being pro-Brady (I’m not) or anti-Brady (guilty).
- According to the facts of the case as determined by the AGREED PROCESS of the NFL and the NFLPA, Brady is guilty of misconduct in the so-called Deflategate Scandal. If you don’t like Goodell’s behavior, fine. The NFLPA should probably seek a better process. But the NFL followed the negotiated process and the courts should not have intervened.
- The reversal by the 2nd Appeals Court was the norm in union cases in that area, from what I’ve read. The lower courts interfere beyond their authority and the appeals court reverses them. That’s what happens.
So, what happens now? I’m not sure. Brady has been belligerent, bellicose, and insulting to Goodell and the NFL and has refused to admit to anything, though the investigator’s findings in the case make him look at the very least, complicit in a coverup, and more likely part and parcel of the whole thing.
The best solution at this point might be for Brady to “take a plea.” He might admit that he knew it was happening and didn’t stop it, or something. Or maybe he could simply admit to lapses in judgment in not being truthful and cooperative in the investigation. (By the way, there is no Fifth Amendment right in this – it’s not a criminal investigation.) Then Goodell could lower the suspension to 2 games and we could move on. But if Brady continues to fight it, he’s likely to sit for four games next year.
If Brady ends up sitting four games, you know my heart will be broken, right?