Patriots

Patriots

Two amicus briefs were filed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, urging the court to rehear Tom Brady and the NFLPA's case against the NFL. While the brief submitted by the AFL-CIO -- which represents over 12 million workers nationwide -- garnered much of the attention, there are those who believe the brief turned in by Kenneth Feinberg could be a "turning point" in the case.

SI.com's Michael McCann called Feinberg a "legendary figure" in legal circles for his work allocating settlements to victims of what McCann referred to as "large-scale harms." Feinberg has taken on the challenge of determining fair compensation for victims in the aftermath of incidents like the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Boston Marathon bombings. 

The reasons Feinberg opted to chime in on Deflategate is because he serves as a neutral arbitrator in the settlement cases he's taken on. Should Brady's suspension be upheld, Feinberg argues in his amicus brief, it could impact the country's system of arbitration. 

The nation's "trust and confidence in arbitration" would suffer should an arbitrator like NFL commissioner Roger Goodell be permitted to enforce his "own brand of industrial justice," Feinberg explained. 

"The Commissioner impermissibly exceeded the scope of his authority in this matter," Feinberg wrote in his conclusion. "But more troubling, he used the vehicle of arbitration as a mechanism to rewrite the underlying bargain between the parties, to the sole advantage of his organization as against Brady and the Players Association. If this type of bias or capricious notions of industrial justice are upheld, the public should—and will—lose faith in the systems of arbitration and private dispute resolution that have become a parallel component of our justice system.

 

"Fair process before a fair tribunal cannot be an aspiration; it is an unwaivable, inviolable necessity."

While these amicus briefs -- there have been four filed in support of a rehearing -- carry no legal weight since judges are not required to consider them, Feinberg's concern about how Brady's case would have a ripple effect on arbitration in the United States is an indication of the wide-reaching nature of the Second Circuit's ruling. 

Whether it will be enough to persuade seven of 13 judges on the Second Circuit to grant a rehearing remains to be seen. Either way, this issue will easily exceed the 500-day mark it reached on Wednesday and continue to inch closer to the original "-gate" -- the Watergate scandal -- which lasted 783 days.