Deflategate resurfaced Thursday when three judges from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan fired on an NFL Players Association attorney, with one claiming that ball tampering by Tom Brady of the New England Patriots “was compelling, if not overwhelming.”
Although a decision may be months away, attorney Jeffrey Kessler suffered a setback on Wednesday when all three judges suggested NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared within his rights to suspend Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for knowing before the January 2015 AFC Championship game that someone deflated the game balls.
In September ESPN reported that the Patriots argued successfully in a federal court that they were not responsible for deflating the balls and voided Goodell’s four game suspension of superstar quarterback Tom Brady. U.S. District Judge Richard Berman ruled that Goodell went too far in his punishment of Brady and accused the commissioner of dispensing “his own brand of industrial justice.”
The Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 in the AFC Championship game and eventually went on to win the Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks.
According to the Associated Press, the three appellate judges also scrutinized the NFL’s attorney, criticizing the punishment exacted on Brady as too harsh.
Yet, the magistrates gave an inkling of where they may be going in this litigation when they suggested that Goodell can punish a player if he determines that the player obstructed an NFL investigation.
According to a Boston Globe article, during Thursday’s hearing Judge Barrington Parker commented on the issue of Brady destroying his cell phone during the NFL’s Deflategate investigation, observing that he did not believe the four-time Super Bowl Champion’s claim. “Mr. Brady’s explanation of that made no sense whatsoever,” Parker said.
The decision phase could take several months, reported the Globe. Two of the three judges ruling for one side is necessary to win the appeal. Neither Brady nor Goodell attended the hearing.