The Second Circuit court of appeals skewered Judge Richard Berman's decision in its ruling to reinstate Tom Brady's suspension on Monday, saying that Berman's reasons for overturning Brady's punishment were "insufficient."
Berman made his decision based on three primary factors, including the lack of adequate notice that deflation of footballs could lead to a four-game suspension, the exclusion of testimony from NFL executive vice president Jeff Pash, and the denial of access to the investigative notes of the attorneys who assembled the Wells Report.
"We conclude that each of these grounds is insufficient to warrant vacatur," the Second Circuit wrote in its decision, "and that none of the Association's remaining arguments have merit."
For the Second Circuit, Article 46 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the players association was enough to reinstate the Patriots quarterback's suspension.
In terms of the relative fairness of the suspension, and particularly the access that the NFLPA had to the NFL's files during the proceedings that led to Brady's suspension initially, the Second Circuit explained that Brady wasn't necessarily entitled to those files.
"Had the parties wished to allow for more expansive discovery," the Second Circuit wrote, "they could have bargained for that right. They did not, and there is simply no fundamental unfairness in affording the parties precisely what they agreed on."
It's clear that the Second Circuit believed whatever issues Brady and his team of lawyers had with the league were issues that could have been addressed in the CBA but weren't. In the court's opinion, that's not its job to correct.
"The parties contracted in the CBA to specifically allow the Commissioner to sit as the arbitrator in all disputes brought pursuant to Article 46, Section 1(a)," the Second Circuit wrote. "They did so knowing full well that the Commissioner had the sole power of determining what constitutes 'conduct detrimental,' and thus knowing that the Commissioner would have a stake both in the underlying discipline and in every arbitration brought pursuant to Section 1(a)."
Then comes the kicker.
"Had the parties wished to restrict the Commissioner's authority," the court wrote, "they could have fashioned a different agreement."