The NFL is in the process of appealing the reversal of the four-game suspension it handed out against New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady surrounding his alleged involvement in “Deflategate.”
The league itself might now be in some hot water following suggestions from legal observers that it stretched the truth (or outright lied) during its hearing in front of a federal appeals panel last week.
According to Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post, this is exactly what many legal observers believe took place during last Thursday’s hearing:
“Ever since last week’s oral arguments late Thursday, there has been a growing chorus among legal observers of the case that Clement made factual misstatements.”
“Factual misstatements” is another term for perjuring yourself in court. It could also mean that those on the league’s side in hearings last week didn’t have all the information, something that’s hard to believe based on the legal team working on the case for the NFL.
One expert Jenkins went on to mention was attorney Stephanie Stradley, who also works as a Texans writer for the Houston Chronicle:
If Clement learned he made fact mistake, he'd send letter to court. Or Kessler could correct w/letter. Cts can sanction if they are angry.
— Stephanie Stradley (@StephStradley) March 4, 2016
NFL attorney Paul Clement is the individual Stradley is referencing here. Her comment is in relation to his in-court argument that Tom Brady lied about conversations he had with Patriots equipment manager John Jastremski after the AFC Championship game.
Without the knowledge that arbitration transcripts would become public record, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell indicated that Brady simply told the league that said conversations surrounded the upcoming Super Bowl, and nothing else.
With transcripts available in court, and of public record, it’s readily apparent that Brady didn’t in fact indicate the conversation solely surrounded the Super Bowl.
In addition to talking about the big game, arbitration transcripts show Brady telling the league that the two had in fact spoken about the allegations they were facing.
Here’s part of Brady’s testimony:
“I think trying to figure out what happened was certainly my concern and trying to figure out, you know, what could be — possibly could have happened to those balls.”
Here’s Clement’s argument in court last Thursday:
“To say all of that was being done to prepare the Super Bowl balls, I think the commissioner found that to simply not be a credible explanation to the conduct.”
See an issue here?
It’s readily apparent that the statement Clement attributed to Brady wasn’t in fact the statement Brady himself made during the arbitration process.
It would have been ridiculous if the Patriots quarterback and the equipment guy involved in the scandal didn’t broach the subject of the scandal in conversations prior to it breaking.
By indicating Brady told falsehoods in relation to his conversations with Jastremski, and by using a false guise as a way to prove this point, the NFL itself isn’t being truthful.
More than this, Clement argued that Brady’s attorneys were “present” in “many of the interviews” during the league’s investigation into the matter. Records of the investigation indicate that his council was available just one, for Brady’s interview itself.
The league’s brief also indicated that Patriots locker room attendant Jim McNally continually called himself the “deflator” during the 2014-15 NFL season. That is also untrue.
According to the Post’s report linked above, McNally mentioned that term just once, long before the 2015 season even started. In fact, league investigator Ted Wells didn’t even ask McNally about said text during the entire arbitration process.
While the NFL isn’t necessarily in legal hot water here, there is a question surrounding the truthfulness of its in-court stance against Brady.
It’s also something the judges in charge of the panel can surely take into account when determining whether the reversal of Brady’s four-game suspension should itself be overturned.
More than anything else, it paints the ever-enigmatic NFL in a bad light.
And in this light, many will conclude the league is simply out to get Brady, as evidenced by it suspending him four games without any real evidence that he had a role in the deflation of the footballs.