BOSTON (CBS) — A group of 11 law and labor arbitration professors have filed the fifth amicus brief supporting Tom Brady in his case against Roger Goodell and the National Football League.
The group, which includes Richard Freeman, Co-Director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard, and professors at schools ranging from Cornell to UCLA, argues that Goodell “improperly exercised his authority as an arbitrator” in upholding Brady’s four-game suspension for his alleged role in DeflateGate. Their brief, like others filed this week, presents Brady and Goodell’s case as one with far-reaching, negative implications for future labor disputes.
The brief, filed on May 31, cited a series of three Supreme Court decisions known as the “Steelworkers Trilogy,” which ruled that arbitrator awards are “legitimate only so long as it draws its essence from the collective bargaining agreement.” The ultimate purpose of these rulings was that an arbitrator, which Goodell appointed himself to be in the case of DeflateGate, should not “dispense his own brand of industrial justice.”
The professors argue that Goodell overstepped his authority when he upheld Brady’s suspension based on new evidence and charges that were not part of the original appeal. The filing also derided Goodell’s comparison of deflated footballs to use of performance-enhancing drugs. The problem with this comparison is that the penalties for PEDs were clearly outlined in the CBA, while no such details were outlined for football deflation.
In concluding that the decision to reverse Judge Richard Berman’s ruling and uphold Brady’s suspension “empowers arbitrators to ignore the parties’ arguments and CBA-imposed limitations on their power, and denies recourse to parties that have suffered even the most egregious violations of industrial due process,” the brief calls for a rehearing to “correct the panel’s errors,” referring to the group of judges who upheld the NFL’s penalties.