By Julia Rivera, Columnist
The United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals has reinstated the four-game suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady imposed by National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell. The court ruled 2-1 in favor of the NFL, overturning last year’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman that repealed Brady’s suspension.
The court ruled not on Brady’s innocence or guilt, but rather on Goodell’s power. Article 46 of the collective-bargaining agreement between players and the league states that Goodell is empowered to take disciplinary action against a player whom he “reasonably judges” to have engaged in “conduct detrimental the integrity of, or public confidence in the game of professional football.”
The players association issued a statement, standing by Brady: “The NFLPA is disappointed in the decision by the Second Circuit. We fought Roger Goodell’s suspension of Tom Brady because we know he did not serve as a fair arbitrator and that players’ rights were violated under our collective bargaining agreement. Our Union will carefully review the decision, consider all of our options and continue to fight for players’ rights and for the integrity of the game.”
Amidst all the deflate-gate drama, it’s important to note that Goodell didn’t follow the proper procedure to punish Brady. Rather than follow the NFL rulebook, specifically the section “Other Uniform/Equipment Violations,” Goodell found Brady guilty of something that’s the equivalent to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Brady argued that the violation was the same as using stickum on gloves, for example.
The punishment for using stickum is a fine of $8,268. If you get caught a second time, it jumps to $16,537. Not a suspension of a game, let alone four. Goodell’s decision to go from a relatively low-level fine for what is football’s version of a minor misdemeanor to a serious felony and a quarter-season suspension is mystifying. The Patriots are a hated team because of all their success, and seeing Brady sit for a few games brings me happiness. However, it’s simply not fair. Now that Goodell’s power has been affirmed, he has complete power to unfairly discipline players.
Goodell could issue a fine instead of the suspension. However, he declined to say last week if he’d enforce Brady’s suspension this season if the appeal was won. After all this time, I would be shocked to see him rescind the suspension.