Published April 26, 2016
It might have taken awhile, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Monday reinstated the suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, and it’s highly likely this decision will stick, a UB sports law expert says.
“From a legal perspective, Brady is all but done,” says Nellie Drew, who served as outside counsel for the NHL and as a team attorney for the Buffalo Sabres in the 1990s. “They can appeal this decision by requesting an en banc hearing before the Second Circuit or even seeking review in the Supreme Court. But good luck. It is very unlikely that such an appeal would be entertained by either court.”
In a 2-to-1 decision, a panel reinstated Brady’s suspension in a ruling that overturned a lower-court decision that had voided the NFL’s suspension. Brady now might serve his four-game suspension when the season starts in September.
It’s a decision, Drew says, that should have been made last time around and has far-reaching ramifications.
The decision reinforces NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s authority to discipline players, as set forth in the collective bargaining agreement.
“I thought an egregious mistake was made by the court last time,” she says. “It was so surprising in that it ran counter to long-established federal policy in which the courts defer to the results of private arbitration processes — particularly those that are the result of collective bargaining.”
The Court of Appeals holds tremendous weight, Drew says. So while it is possible the players union could appeal, the odds are stacked against them in a big way, she says.
“The chances are pretty high that Brady will sit,” she says. “They might try and appeal it, or negotiate within the NFL to attempt to knock it down a couple of games, but from a legal standpoint, Brady is pretty much out of luck.”