After Judge Richard Berman announced today that he has vacated Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension, the NFLPA and NFL each issued statements on the matter, with the league confirming that it will extend the legal battle by appealing Berman’s ruling. Now, Patriots owner Robert Kraft has released his own statement on the decision, via the Patriots’ website.
“As I have said during this process and throughout his Patriots career, Tom Brady is a classy person of the highest integrity,” Kraft said in the statement. “He represents everything that is great about this game and this league. Yet, with absolutely no evidence of any actions of wrongdoing by Tom in the Wells report, the lawyers at the league still insisted on imposing and defending unwarranted and unprecedented discipline. Judge Richard Berman understood this and we are greatly appreciative of his thoughtful decision that was delivered today. Now, we can return our focus to the game on the field.”
While Kraft may be eager to shift the focus to the action on the field, there are plenty of reactions, opinions, and leftover tidbits on today’s news to pass along, so let’s dive in and round up the latest….
- The NFL’s appeal of Judge Berman’s decision didn’t include a request to expedite the process, so it figures to drag on for a while, tweets Andrew Brandt of TheMMQB.com.
- In a conversation with CSN’s Jill Sorensen, NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith says that the union doesn’t “make the mistake of trusting the league,” and suggests that the Patriots probably wish they had a “do-over” after accepting the NFL’s sanctions against the franchise earlier this year without an appeal.
- While Smith may be right about the Pats, the team is highly unlikely to attempt to recoup those lost draft picks now, reports Tom Curran of CSNNE.com after speaking to someone “very high in the organization.”
- Rachel Axon of USA Today Sports provides a brief and informative Q&A on what today’s ruling means for Brady, the Patriots, and the league, and what will happen next.
- The NFL’s lawyers figure to take “saws and blow-torches” to the league’s personal conduct policy in the near future, says Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports. Specifically, in Robinson’s view, the league must address the ramifications in future cases for obstructing justice or for having “general awareness” of a violation, since there was no precedent set before the league attempted to penalize Brady for those acts.
- Following the league’s latest PR disaster, commissioner Roger Goodell still isn’t in danger of losing his job, but the NFL will likely make more nuanced changes and alterations to various roles and job descriptions, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. La Canfora adds that several sources believe it’s only a matter of time until changes are made within the league’s front office, and the CBS scribe also wonders if the NFL’s relationship with Ted Wells has run its course.
- The NFL’s loss in court is just the latest defeat in what has become a “pattern of losing” for the league, writes Mike Freman of Bleacher Report. According to Freeman, Berman’s decision dealt a blow to both Goodell’s legacy and the NFL’s image.
- As Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports outlines, there may have been a silver lining for the league and for Goodell, since Judge Berman declined to rule on a number of claims made by Brady and the NFLPA. Brady’s camp claimed that Goodell was an “evidently partial” arbitrator and improperly delegated authority to executive VP of football operations Troy Vincent. Had Berman sided with Brady and the NFLPA on those issues, it would have sent a precedent for independent arbitration going forward, but the judge felt he had enough to overturn the league’s ruling based on several other factors, and didn’t commit one way or the other to those claims.