NFLPA officially files lawsuit seeking to vacate Tom Brady’s suspension

By Vincent Frank

The day after the National Football League announced that Tom Brady’s appeal of a four-game suspension levied against him stemming from Deflategate was upheld, the NFL Players Association has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Minnesota seeking to vacate the suspension.

Here’s the full release from the union’s website:

The NFLPA filed an appeal today on behalf of Tom Brady in U.S. District Court of Minnesota to vacate the four-game suspension upheld by Goodell based on the following:

There was no direct evidence in the Wells Report so the discipline was based on a made up “general awareness” standard to justify such absurd and unprecedented punishment.

Roger Goodell delegated his disciplinary authority to Troy Vincent, violating our Collective Bargaining Agreement, and then as the “arbitrator,” he ruled on his own improper delegation, botching basic arbitration law and fundamental fairness.

A collectively bargained policy already exists regarding tampering with equipment that provides only for fines, not suspensions. Troy Vincent ignored this policy when he issued his initial discipline.

The policy that Vincent did apply to Brady only covers teams and team executives, not players. The NFL once again violated players’ right to advance notice of discipline to try to justify unprecedented punishment.

No player in NFL history has served a suspension for “non-cooperation” or “obstruction.” And, in this case, the evidence is paper-thin.

The appeals hearing held on June 23, 2015 defied any concept of fundamental fairness and violated the principles of our CBA.

The collective bargaining agreement provides procedures and guidelines for how the Commissioner conducts disciplinary hearings and the rules applicable to players. The NFL chose to violate these principles.

By pursuing this petition, our union is protecting the rights of Tom Brady and of every NFL player past, present and future.”

This also comes a day after the NFL filed a preemptive lawsuit in a Manhattan court looking to confirm Brady’s suspension.

Unfortunately for the union, who will likely be represented by hard-hitting outside council Jeffrey Kessel, it drew an anti-union federal judge in U.S. District Court of Minnesota. Instead of a union-friendly appointee in the form of David S. Doty overseeing the appeal, it will be Bush appointee Richard Kyle. That doesn’t necessarily bode well for the union.

It’s also important to note that the first claim was filed Tuesday in Manhattan. The feds usually go by a file-first philosophy, which means the case may very well end up being heard in the NFL’s backyard of New York City.

Though, the points of emphasis included in the union’s filing do seem to favor Brady in his appeal. Goodell hasn’t been seen as an objective arbitrator of collective bargaining issues in the past, at least in the eyes of the courts. In addition to this, overseeing the appeal of a suspension he had a role in handing down runs contrary to everything that collective bargaining and unionization has stood for in the past.

Photo: USA Today Sports