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Judge lets Brady play, ruling against NFL in 'Deflategate'

A federal judge let the air out of "Deflategate" Thursday, erasing New England quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension for a controversy that the NFL claimed threatened football's integrity. U.S.

News 12 Staff

Sep 3, 2015, 6:42 PM

Updated 3,210 days ago

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A federal judge let the air out of "Deflategate" Thursday, erasing New England quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension for a controversy that the NFL claimed threatened football's integrity.

The suspension was "premised upon several significant legal deficiencies," Berman wrote in his opinion, noting that an arbitrator's factual findings are generally not open to judicial challenge.

The judge said Brady had no notice he could receive a four-game suspension for general awareness of ball deflation by others or participation in any scheme to deflate football and for not cooperating with an investigation.

Brady was also denied equal access to investigative files, including witness interview notes, and didn't have a chance to examine one of two lead investigators, the judge said.

The ruling was a surprise to some legal experts who believed Berman was merely pressuring the league to settle when he criticized its handling of the investigation and discipline over the last eight months.

While the league investigation found it was "more probable than not" that two Patriots ball handling employees deliberately released air from Patriots game balls at January's 45-7 New England victory over the Indianapolis Colts, it cited no direct evidence that Brady knew about or authorized it.

The commissioner said he concluded Brady "knew about, approved of, consented to, and provided inducements and rewards" to ensure balls were deflated.

He warned the league that he had the authority to overturn its punishment of Brady if he found the NFL acted unfairly by refusing to deliver NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash as a witness even though he worked on the NFL investigation.

As they negotiated, the sides attacked each other in court papers.

In its papers, the NFL said there was "ample support" in evidence for the commissioner to conclude Brady was involved in efforts by the Patriots equipment personnel to deflate footballs.


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