NFLPA releases statements on Deflategate ruling
From NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith:
“The rights of Tom Brady and of all NFL players under the collective bargaining agreement were affirmed today by a Federal Judge in a court of the NFL’s choosing. We thank Judge Berman for his time, careful consideration of the issue and fair and just result.
"This decision should prove, once and for all, that our Collective Bargaining Agreement does not grant this Commissioner the authority to be unfair, arbitrary and misleading. While the CBA grants the person who occupies the position of Commissioner the ability to judiciously and fairly exercise the designated power of that position, the union did not agree to attempts to unfairly, illegally exercise that power, contrary to what the NFL has repeatedly and wrongfully claimed.
We are happy for the victory of the rule of law for our players and our fans. This court’s decision to overturn the NFL Commissioner again should signal to every NFL owner that collective bargaining is better than legal losses. Collective bargaining is a much better process that will lead to far better results.”
NFLPA president Eric Winston also issued a statement later Thursday.
“I am happy for Tom, and it’s important to remember that when one player’s rights are upheld, it is a victory for all players,” Winston said. “However, this whole ordeal has highlighted the need for players and owners to work together to make all policies fair and transparent for everyone in our game. I welcome an opportunity to have open and constructive dialogue with the league in the near future for how we can best accomplish that.”
Because the suspension was overturned, Brady can now start in the Patriots’ Week 1 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
On May 11, Brady was suspended four games after an NFL-contracted report by attorney Ted Wells asserted “it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules” and Brady was “generally aware” of the alleged scheme to deflate footballs used in the AFC championship game.
Brady’s agent said at the time that the Wells report has “significant and tragic flaws,” and the quarterback has denied wrongdoing.
The NFL also punished the Patriots franchise by imposing a $1 million fine and the loss of a 2016 first-round pick and 2017 fourth-round pick. Patriots owner Robert Kraft decided not to fight the sanctions.
The Sept. 10 game against the Steelers will take place at Gillette Stadium.
- Kayla Lombardo