On Thursday, federal judge Richard Berman nullified New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension for his role in the Deflategate scandal, in which the Patriots allegedly used underinflated footballs during last season's AFC championship game against the Colts.
The decision may not mark the end to the legal battle between Brady and the NFL. The league can appeal the decision, which could result in the lawsuit continuing for several more months.The league suspended Brady four games for his role in the Deflategate scandal after an investigation by attorney Ted Wells found that it was probable the Patriots purposefully deflated game balls and that Brady was most likely “at least generally aware of” the team's actions. Brady appealed the decision.
Brady's initial four-game suspension is the latest in a series of high-profile bans handed down by Roger Goodell during his tenure as NFL commissioner. Here's a look back at some of the notable suspensions levied by the league during Goodell's time in office. The list only covers suspensions levied by the commissioner's office, not by individual teams.
Albert Haynesworth: five games (2006)
Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth's five-game suspension was the longest for on-field behavior in the history of the NFL. Haynesworth stomped on the head of Cowboys center Andre Gurode, knocking his helmet off, and then kicked and stomped his exposed face. Gurode's injuries required 30 stitches.
Adam “Pacman” Jones: entire 2007 season
Titans cornerback Adam Jones was suspended for the entire 2007 season due to a slew of off-field incidents. He was interviewed by police in 10 separate incidents, including one in which he allegedly attacked a stripper at the 2007 NBA All-Star weekend in Las Vegas and threatened the life of a security guard who tried to intervene. In 2008, Jones was suspended for four games after an altercation involving his bodyguard at a Dallas hotel.
Chris Henry: eight games (2007)
Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry received eight games for violating the NFL's conduct policy a season after he received a two-game suspension from the league and a benching from Bengals coach Marvin Lewis for misconduct. He was charged in four separate cases in his first two years with Cincinnati (2005-06), and the eight-game suspension stemmed from several legal issues. Henry later died in 2009 after falling off the back of a moving truck and was revealed to have developed CTE over the course of his career.
Tank Johnson: eight games (2007)
Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson was arrested on in-home gun charges late in 2006. Police found six unregistered guns in his home, which violated the terms of his probation for an earlier firearms charge. Johnson was later suspended by Goodell for eight games, with the potential for a reduction to six games pending behavior requirements. Johnson was released by the Bears in June 2007 after another run-in with authorities, for speeding and a suspected DUI. He served his full suspension as a member of the Dallas Cowboys that season.
Michael Vick: suspended indefinitely (2007)
Vick was suspended indefinitely without pay after admitting guilt in a dogfighting scheme. The Falcons quarterback served a 23-month prison sentence and signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Eagles once eligible to return to the league. He became eligible to play in the third game of the 2009 season after sitting out all of 2007 and 2008.
Donte Stallworth: entire 2009 season
The Browns wideout was suspended for the entirety of the 2009 campaign after pleading guilty to DUI manslaughter in Florida, after a March 14 car crash in which Stallworth, behind the wheel, struck and killed a construction worker. He served 24 days in jail in addition to two years of house arrest and other restrictions. He returned to the league with the Baltimore Ravens in 2010.
Ben Roethlisberger: four games (2010)
Roethlisberger was initially suspended for six games for sexual assault allegations in the wake of a March 2010 incident insight the women's restroom of a Georgia nightclub. The suspension was later reduced to four games. The Steelers quarterback was not charged for the incident.
Terrelle Pryor: five games (2011)
Pryor was suspended before ever officially entering the NFL, ruled out for five games by the league after a memorabilia-for-cash scandal while at Ohio State. Goodell and the league allowed Pryor to enter the supplemental draft, with the suspension as a caveat. He would have had to miss five games upon returning to the Buckeyes. The Raiders selected Pryor in the supplemental draft.
New Orleans Saints: multiple suspensions (2012)
The NFL suspended four Saints players for their participation in the team's system of rewarding defensive players for hard hits, which became known as the “Bountygate” scandal. In addition to suspending head coach Sean Payton for the entire 2012 season, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely, general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six, the team was fined and stripped of future second-round draft picks. Several players were also suspended: Jonathan Vilma was suspended the entire season, Anthony Hargrove was banned for eight games, Will Smith was suspended for four games, and Scott Fujita was suspended for three games. But all four player suspensions were overturned on appeal.
Josh Brent: 10 games (2013)
Cowboys defensive tackle Brent received a 10-game suspension after driving under the influence in December 2012 and flipping his car on a Texas highway, killing teammate Jerry Brown, who was riding in the passenger seat. Charges of DUI and intoxication manslaughter followed. Brent's appeal was unsuccessful.
Ray Rice: indefinite, overturned two months later (2014)
Ravens running back Ray Rice initially received a two-game suspension, along with a fine, for a physical altercation that took place between Rice and his fianceé, Janay Palmer, at an Atlantic City, N.J., casino in February 2014. Rice was indicted in March 2014, and the couple married on March 28. On July 24, 2014, the NFL levied the suspension as a violation of the league's personal conduct policy.
On Sept. 8, 2014, Rice was released by the Ravens and suspended indefinitely after a video was released by TMZ that showed Rice punching Palmer in the casino elevator, knocking her out. The NFL and the Ravens claimed to have never seen the video before it was released. On Nov. 28, 2014, Rice won his appeal for reinstatement, but he has not signed with a team.
Adrian Peterson: suspended indefinitely (2014)
Peterson was indicted on child abuse charges on September 12, 2014, and deactivated for the Vikings' Week 2 game against New England. He was eligible to play in Week 3, but he was then placed on the Commisioner's Exempt List, effectively giving Peterson a paid leave. In November 2014, after Peterson pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of reckless assault, the league announced Peterson would be suspended without pay for the rest of the 2014 season, at minimum. His appeal was upheld in December, but a judge vacated his suspension in February. He was reinstated on March 1.
Josh Gordon: two season-long suspensions (2014, 2015)
Gordon received a one-year suspension in August 2014 for a repeat violation of the league's substance-abuse policy, his second NFL suspension. The first ban caused him to miss the opening two games of the 2013 season. Gordon's yearlong suspension was reduced to 10 games in September 2014 in wake of the league's new drug policy, and he was reinstated in November.
On February 3, 2015, the Browns wide receiver was suspended for a minimum of one year for a third violation of the substance-abuse policy after testing positive for alcohol use, which he was prohibited from doing under the terms of his previous suspension. Gordon will be eligible for reinstatement in February but will be unable to return until the start of the 2016 season.
Greg Hardy: ten games, reduced to four (2015)
Hardy was suspended for the first 10 games of the 2015 season after a violation of the league's personal conduct policy, but the suspension was dropped to four games in July after his appeal. In July 2014, Hardy was found guilty of assaulting a female and communicating threats. Hardy was accused of using physical force multiple times in a May 2014 altercation with his then-girlfriend, whom he allegedly threatened to kill. His domestic violence trial was dismissed on appeal in February after the alleged victim did not present herself in court.
The Cowboys signed Hardy to a one-year deal in March.
- Jeremy Woo