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Tamara Holder’s Fox News’ Op-Ed: Brady wins. Goodell loses…again. Now what?

Posted On: September 3, 2015 | By Tamara N. Holder

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Roger Goodell just lost again. Now what?

Thursday, U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman overturned New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady’s four game suspension for his alleged involvement in “Deflategate.” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has now lost every major appeal by the NFL Player’s Association on behalf of suspended players.

Goodell’s first serious blow came in 2012 when former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue reversed the suspensions of four New Orleans’ Saints players in the Bountygate scandal.

Tom Brady leaving the federal courthouse in Manhattan (photo courtesy of AP)

Tom Brady leaving the federal courthouse in Manhattan (photo courtesy of AP)

The commissioner’s iron fist remained mostly at rest until the beginning of the 2014 when the league was blindsided by three of its star players’ off-the-field domestic violence scandals. In a mission to ensure “reliable conclusions,” Goodell indefinitely suspended  Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy.

Thursday’s ruling proves that the NFLPA’s fight for Brady wasn’t a waste since Judge Berman overturned the NFL’s entire punishment of Brady.

Player conduct matters are governed by a collective bargaining agreement, requiring that disputes are to be resolved through arbitration. But players, increasingly incensed with Goodell’s punishments, have been racing to the courthouse…and winning. Rice, Peterson, and Hardy all had their suspensions  reversed by either an arbitrator or a federal court judge.

Still determined to “get it right,” Goodell hired Tom Jones, the former director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as his new “chief disciplinary officer,” and Lisa Friel, a former sex crimes prosecutor. Goodell was in desperate need to rehabilitate (or possibly insulate) himself from future defeats.

But just when Goodell was about to close the door on a terrible season of bad PR for both himself and the league,  Tom Brady and the New England Patriots were accused of deflating footballs in the final playoff game before the Super Bowl.

Goodell immediately launched an investigation, hiring criminal defense attorney Ted Wells to prepare an extensive report for a reported sum of $3 million. Rather than issue a ruling himself like in the past, Goodell  passed the responsibility off to Troy Vincent, Executive Vice President of Football Operations.

The Wells Report determined “it was more probable than not that Brady was at least generally aware” of the Patriots’ ball boys’ deflating antics. Vincent subsequently suspended Brady for four games. He also fined the Patriots $1 million, and revoked a first and fourth round draft pick in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

The Patriots didn’t appeal the punishment but the NFLPA, on behalf of Brady, did. Goodell chose to step in and hear the appeal, ultimately upholding Brady’s suspension.

The NFLPA filed suit in federal court. During this time, Vincent criticized the NFLPA for wasting its players’ dues on fighting the NFL’s suspensions of a handful of high profile cases.

Thursday’s ruling proves that the NFLPA’s fight for Brady wasn’t a waste since Judge  Berman overturned the NFL’s entire punishment of Brady.

Legal analysts are having a field day breaking down Judge Berman’s decision. But the bigger question is: What is next for Goodell and his heavy-handed style of punishment?

Before the tension between Goodell, his owners, and League’s players turns into total chaos, the parties must come back to the table and collectively agree on the rules of engagement.

Categories: Deflatagate | Deflategate | NFL | Press | Print | Roger Goodell | SPORTS COURT on FNC | Tamara N. Holder | THE STARTING LINEUP | Tom Brady

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