|If Tom Brady is cleared of Deflategate charges, could he file defamation suit against NFL?||06.29.15 at 9:33 pm ET|
Tom Brady has been caught up in the Deflategate maelstrom since just after the AFC title game, and has been forced to deal with a series of attacks on his character as a result. While others have been quick to say he’s guilty, the quarterback has maintained his innocence.
While the story has yet to play out completely, if Brady is exonerated in some form or fashion over the next few months — whether it’s the result of having his suspension wiped clean by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell or having the penalty overturned in court — could he try and get some payback against the league in the form of a defamation suit?
While it would be an intriguing proposition for the quarterback to try and extract a pound of flesh from those who put this whole thing in motion, legal analyst Michael McCann said Monday that Brady would “face an uphill climb” if he chose that course of action against the league, the commissioner or Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations who initially handed down the four-game suspension.
“Brady would need to show that not only were public statements made about him false and damaging to his reputation, but he’d have to show those statements were made with actual malice, which means knowingly or intentionally,” McCann said. “In other words, if the Wells Report contained reputationally-damaging inaccuracies or lies about Brady, that would not be enough for Brady to prevail in a defamation lawsuit. He’d have to show that Wells included statements that Wells knew were false. That would be hard to show, especially as it relates to a controversy where there remain different scientific opinions and theories about what may have happened.
“Debate about the science in Deflategate is itself a defense for defendants in any defamation lawsuit brought by Brady. Those defendants can argue that at the time they made those statements about Brady, there was debate about what happened in Deflategate and thus a lack of consensus about what constituted the truth and what constituted a lie.”
There is some precedent here for a player pursuing legal action against the league. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who was initially suspended for a season for his apparent involvement in the Bountygate scandal, later saw his ban lifted. Consequently, he filed a defamation suit against Goodell, one that was later dismissed because of insufficient claims and evidence. (When initially told about Deflategate, Vilma had some simple advice for Brady: “Lawyer up.”) If Brady decided to pursue legal action against the league, even though Vilma’s case wasn’t successful, McCann believes he would at least ponder taking a page from Vilma’s playbook.
“If he decided to go that route, Brady would likely retain attorneys who specialize in defamation litigation,” McCann said. “One possibility is Peter Ginsberg, a New York City attorney who represented Jonathan Vilma in Vilma’s defamation lawsuit against Roger Goodell in the aftermath of Bountygate. Ginsberg has represented other athletes as well, including Michael Irvin and Vijay Singh, in legal matters concerning their reputation.”
|Report: Several Hall of Fame voters wouldn’t hold Deflategate against Tom Brady||06.28.15 at 10:43 pm ET|
In this story from SI.com, Richard Deitsch spoke with eight current voters, and all of them pretty much say the same thing — unless new evidence comes to light that might directly implicate Brady in the scandal, the quarterback will have little trouble getting into the Hall of Fame, likely on the first ballot.
Voters polled by Deitsch include Bob Glauber of Newday, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report, and Mike Sando and Jim Trotter of ESPN. Trotter perhaps offered the strongest endorsement of Brady, saying that “Brady’s greatness isn’t about the air pressure in a football; it’s about the competitive drive in his heart.”
He added: “My evaluation of Brady for the Hall of Fame hasn’t changed at all. If he were listed on the ballot today, he’d get my vote without hesitation. It’s arguable whether any quarterback has consistently done more with less than Brady.”
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It doesn’t look like the Patriots or Tom Brady will get an answer on the appeal of the quarterback’s four-game suspension until well after the July 4 holiday.
Brady attended all 10 hours of his hearing on Tuesday in New York City. The next step is the filing of post-hearing briefs, which are expected to be filed late this week.
According to multiple reports, Brady testified under oath during the proceedings on Tuesday before Roger Goodell, likely setting the table for a federal court appeal/injunction down the road, should Goodell not rule favorably for the Patriots quarterback.
What happens next?
After the post-hearing briefs this week, Goodell would have enough information to proceed and making his ruling. That’s not expected until sometime after the holiday weekend. Goodell would presumably need time to digest these briefs and then make a decision to keep, reduce or eliminate the four-game suspension altogether.
Well, that depends on who you read and listen to.
“I don’t know what the timetable is. I think we put in a very compelling case,” said Jeffrey Kessler, Brady’s attorney hired for this case.
Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports reported Friday that it would be some point “thereafter.” Garafolo suggested that means sometime in mid-to-late July.
“NFL commissioner Roger Goodell would need some time to digest these briefs and then make a decision to either keep or lighten the four-game suspension,” Garafolo wrote.
ESPN’s John Clayton indicated this weekend that it would be closer to the start of camp in late July.
Post-hearing briefs in Tom Brady appeal due late next week, sources say. Decision from Roger Goodell to follow at some point thereafter.
‘ Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) June 24, 2015
|Report: Some NFL execs find Tom Brady ‘not entirely credible’ in appeal||06.24.15 at 1:33 pm ET|
Following an ESPN report Tuesday night that Tom Brady delivered an “A-plus” performance at his appeal hearing, Pro Football Talk reported Wednesday that the quarterback might not have impressed NFL executives quite that much.
Crediting a league source, PFT’s Mike Florio wrote that Brady “simply reiterated his denial regarding any involvement in or knowledge of whatever it was that John Jastremski and Jim McNally may have been doing with the team’s footballs,” and some of Brady’s answers to follow-up questions “were regarded by some in the room … as not entirely credible.”
PFT also reports that Brady’s case was mainly focused on the flawed science in the Wells Report, along with the fact that there is no proof of Brady’s guilt.
|Adam Schefter: Other teams deflated footballs, including long snapper with paper clip last year||at 11:54 am ET|
While standing outside the NFL’s Park Avenue offices on Tuesday afternoon, where Tom Brady‘s appeal was being held, Adam Schefter shared a story or two about a pair of deflation incidents in the NFL.
“There was one punter I know — or, long snapper, last year — that carried a paper clip with him in two games and deflated footballs before he snapped them during the games,” he said in a live shot of the show “NFL Insiders”. “There’s another backup quarterback that would deflate footballs for his starting quarterback.
“So to think that Tom Brady‘s the only one, or the Patriots are the only team that have ever done anything, it doesn’t excuse them, again this is about preserving the integrity of the game and making sure that’s upheld, but again, that’s got to be met across the league,” Schefter added. “And there are other people, including that long snapper who used that paper clip to let out a little air in the football every time he was snapping last year.”
Schefter’s report came during Brady’s hearing, which included 10 hours of testimony and about 12 hours total. The ESPN man also reported that Brady was his own “greatest ally” in the room Tuesday.
“He was in that room the entire time and came off, on a scale of 1-10, in the words of a person in that room, as an A-plus, 10 kind of guy,” he said.
“He gave sincere, genuine answers,” Schefter continued. “He had an explanation for everything that went on in the Wells Report, and anyone who knows and has dealt with Tom Brady knows how genuine he can be. I’m told that genuineness shined through during the course of that appeal, which I think is going to make life more difficult for Roger Goodell to make a decision on.”
|5 thoughts on Tuesday’s Tom Brady-Roger Goodell sitdown, what it means for QB, commissioner going forward||at 12:49 am ET|
1. After almost 12 hours on Park Avenue on Tuesday — and no more hearings scheduled on the topic, according to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello — Tom Brady will sit and wait for a ruling from the commissioner on his future. How long would that be? Well, according to Article 46 of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement, a ruling is required to be made “as soon as practicable.” (Nice to see that the same open-ended, vague language that permeated the Wells Report also applies to things like the CBA.) In other words, it could be a long time before we see some resolution here. By way of example, Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy is at 26 days (as of Tuesday) after he had his hearing last month. It’s entirely possible that Roger Goodell could go into slowdown mode here, as the calendar is starting to work against the Patriots as it relates to preparing for the 2015 season. (One thing to consider here, and I’m only half-joking: Maybe the greatest opportunity for a news dump of this magnitude would be to hold it until Friday, July 3 at 4:59 p.m. The Friday before a long holiday weekend would be an excellent way to minimize things for both sides. Just some food for thought.) “I don’t know what the timetable is,” NFLPA Jeffrey Kessler told reporters when things let out at the end of the day, “but I feel like we made a very compelling case in there.”
2. Now, after Brady went through his defense on Tuesday — and apparently was incredibly cooperative — the ball is in Goodell’s court. Brady’s legal team likely made the argument that there was no proof of any sort of Brady’s involvement in a plot to deflate the footballs, as well as some of the faulty science employed by Ted Wells. Then, there’s also the matter of the punishment not fitting the infraction; when Brett Favre wasn’t forthcoming with his phone in 2010 after a texting scandal, the league fined him $50,000 and sent him on his way. If arguments like this cause Goodell to have a change of heart, he could also reduce the suspension to one or two games, a wholly possible option at this point. It seems unlikely that he’d wipe it clean off the books for several reasons, not the least of which it would be very hard to justify that decision based on the $5 million the league paid Wells for the probe and results. (One more thing, specifically as it relates to Wells: ESPN’s discovery of new information in the Pete Rose case included old footage of John Dowd, who spearheaded the initial investigation into Rose and his gambling when he was the Cincinnati manager. The Dowd Report was an unquestioned takedown of Rose, an ironclad document that left no doubt to Rose’s guilt. The contrast between Dowd’s work and the lukewarm language in the report put forth by Wells when it came to Brady and the Patriots was jarring.)
|After almost 12 hours, Tom Brady appeal hearing wraps up||06.23.15 at 8:58 pm ET|
The Tom Brady appeal hearing wrapped up Tuesday night almost 12 hours after it initially began.
Brady, who had an audience with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell regarding his four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate, didn’t speak with reporters afterward. According to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, no further hearings are scheduled.
“We put on a very compelling case — that’s all I’ll say,” NFLPA attorney Jeffrey Kessler told reporters on the way out of the building.
Ted Wells, who authored the report that ultimately led to Brady’s suspension, was also present. However, he did not have any comment for reporters on the way out of the building.
Going forward, there is no timetable for the announcement of a potential reduction in the penalty, but it is worth noting that article 46 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement requires that a ruling be made “as soon as practicable.”
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