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On Monday, the U.S. Appeals court backed the NFL and reinstated Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his involvement in Deflategate.
One of the key issues that the appeals court ruled in the NFL’s favor was Roger Goodell’s controversial performance-enhancing drug comparison.
During Brady’s appeal last summer, Judge Richard Berman blasted Goodell for comparing Brady’s four-game suspension to a player using PEDs. Goodell suggested in both cases, that it hurt the integrity of the game and showed a player trying to gain a competitive advantage.
Brady and the NFL Players Association argued that there was no notice that a player alleged or found guilty in tampering with game balls would be punished like a player found guilty of using PEDs. Berman, in his ruling said that it cannot be used as a comparison, especially because the PED policy is clearly laid out.
However, the appeals court agreed with Goodell’s argument. Circuit judges Parker and Chin wrote in their decision:
We are not troubled by the Commissioner’s analogy. If 18 deference means anything, it means that the arbitrator is entitled to 19 generous latitude in phrasing his conclusions. We have little 20 difficulty concluding that the comparison to steroid users neither 21 violated a “right” to which Brady was entitled nor deprived him of 22 notice. While he may have been entitled to notice of his range of 23 punishment, it does not follow that he was entitled to advance notice 24 of the analogies the arbitrator might find persuasive in selecting a 25 punishment within that range.
This decision also further enhances Roger Goodell’s power to dish out discipline to players. The appeals court not only found his PED analogy to be comparable, but they ruled it fair for Goodell to make that call.
It’s unknown what Brady’s next move will be, but in the meantime, Goodell and the NFL just had a big victory.