Judge lifts Tom Brady's four-game suspension, NFL to appeal

A federal judge in York lifted New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension stemming from the Deflategate controversy. U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell went too far in affirming punishment of the Super Bowl-winning quarterback, criticizing him for dispensing "his own brand of industrial justice." Brady has insisted he played no role in a conspiracy to deflate footballs below the allowable limit at last season's AFC Championship Game. The judgement will be appealed by the NFL to the U.S. Appeals Court Second Circuit. "We are grateful to Judge Berman for hearing this matter, but respectfully disagree with today's decision," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. "We will appeal today's ruling in order to uphold the collectively bargained responsibility to protect the integrity of the game. The commissioner's responsibility to secure the competitive fairness of our game is a paramount principle, and the league and our 32 clubs will continue to pursue a path to that end." The judge said that Brady had no notice he could receive a four-game suspension for general awareness of ball deflation by others or participation in any scheme to deflate footballs and for not cooperating with an investigation. "Brady also had no notice that his discipline would be the equivalent of the discipline imposed upon a player who used performance enhancing drugs,'' Berman said. The judge also said Brady was denied equal access to investigative files, including witness interview notes, and didn't have a chance to examine one of two lead investigators. In a statement, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said the ruling proves that the contract with the NFL doesn't grant Goodell "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," Smith said. "We are happy for the victory of the rule of law for our players and our fans." Follow me on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL Aaron Wilson covers the Texans for The Houston Chronicle
Aaron Wilson
Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post, his second stint at the Post. He has previously written for Pro Football Talk and FOX Sports-Scout. Entering his 13th year covering the Baltimore Ravens, he's a beat writer for The Baltimore Sun. Wilson has also covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans.

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