On a recent Tuesday night, Judge Richard Berman (yes, that Judge Berman) presided over a packed courtroom on the ninth floor of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse in downtown Manhattan. Several hundred people filled the leather seats and wooden benches, listening closely to Berman’s introduction. Attorney Ted Wells (yes, that Ted Wells) sat at the front of the room. The last time these two men were in a courtroom together, Berman had temporarily vacated Tom Brady’s four-game suspension imposed by the NFL following Wells’ 243-page report on Deflategate. But on this night, the stakes were much lower. Berman’s role this evening was not to judge, but to moderate a discussion—titled Arbitration in 2017—Where It is Heading—with a panel of high profile lawyers: Wells, well-known arbitrator Kenneth Feinberg, and commercial litigator Stephen Younger. Feinberg also has a Deflategate tie. After the Second Circuit overturned Berman’s ruling, Feinberg submitted an amicus brief that argued why Brady’s case was relevant beyond professional football. Feinberg argued that Goodell’s decision was a biased abuse of authority and that Brady’s case should be reheard en banc (by the entire panel of judges). Feinberg wrote that if the ruling stood, it would, “fundamentally erode the public’s trust and opinion in arbitration.” Goodell’s absolute power as an arbitrator has been widely criticized, which meant Deflategate entered the wide-ranging conversation when the topic switched to the partiality of the arbitrator. “That’s all about sports! That’s Tom Brady,” Feinberg shouted into the microphone while pointing at Berman and Wells. He went on to question Goodell’s partiality and the process of how he determined the punishment for Brady and the Patriots. “I wish the commissioner had been in the audience tonight, but his lawyer Ted Wells was,” Feinberg said with a laugh. After the panel wrapped up, Berman spoke to The MMQB about Tom Brady’s Super Bowl win, whether justice was done, and what it’s like to be a footnote in NFL history.
Judge who overturned Brady suspension says 'Deflategate finally put to rest'
SI | Mar 19