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Five things to know about the Tom Brady decision

The four-game suspension of Patriots QB Tom Brady was vacated Thursday morning by a federal judge. Here are five highlights from U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman's ruling:

  • The Court finds that Brady had no notice that he could receive a four-game suspension for general awareness of ball deflation by others or participation in any scheme to deflate footballs, and noncooperation with the ensuing 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.

  • The Court finds the NFL's steroid policy cannot reasonably be used as a comparator for Brady's four-game suspension for alleged ball deflation by others in the first half of the AFC Championship Game and for noncooperation in the ensuing investigation.

  • Commissioner Roger Goodell's reliance on notice of broad CBA “conduct detrimental” policy -- as opposed to specific player policies regarding equipment violations -- to impose discipline upon Brady is legally misplaced.

  • The Court finds Goodell's denial of the Players Association's motion to produce certain investigative files, including notes of witness interviews, for Brady's use at the arbitral hearing was fundamentally unfair and that Brady was prejudiced as a result. The interview notes were, at the very least, the basis for the Wells Report, and Brady was prejudiced by his lack of access to them.

  • For the reasons stated herein, the Management Council's motion to confirm the arbitration award is denied and the Players Association's motion to vacate the arbitration award is granted. Brady's four-game suspension is vacated, effective immediately. The Clerk is respectfully requested to close cases 15 Civ. 5916 and 15 Civ. 5982.