Thank You, Legal Strategy, For Giving Me Confidence To Draft Tom Brady For My Fantasy Team

I have a fantasy football draft on Wednesday night. Anyone who knows me knows that I believe Tom Brady is a god on and off the field and that I would jump at the chance to select him. Does Deflategate's legal proceedings in front of Judge Richard M. Berman affect my strategy for drafting him to lead my fantasy team to victory? Not really. There is a good chance (in legal terms, you could say "more probable than not") that he will play in the NFL regular season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers next week through one scenario or another thanks to legal strategy. The legally available routes are discussed in further detail here for those who are interested. For those who want the blunt story, here it is.

Note: "Arbitration Award" refers to Goodell's decision as arbitrator to uphold Brady's four game suspension.



scenario 1: arbitration award upheld, end of story

If Judge Berman upholds the four game suspension, Brady and the NFLPA will appeal because this is no longer a case about deflated balls. This is a case about fair procedure - not whether Brady is guilty - in a professional sports league led by a commissioner who claims to be acting in the league's best interests but has a track record that looks like a scatter plot with no trend. The process needs to be neutralized, and the NFLPA will absolutely continue to fight for that stance.

Brady and the NFLPA would probably seek a stay (or injunction) on appeal so that Brady can continue to play while the federal case plays out. The main issue: Brady would have to show that he would be "irreparably harmed" if forced to sit out for four games. There is a chance he could get the preliminary injunction, but this is the scenario where Brady would least likely suit up for Game 1.

scenario 2: arbitration award upheld + order to let brady play

To clarify, upholding the arbitration award means that Judge Berman has determined that either the league's procedures were fair or that he is simply giving a heck of a lot of deference to the commissioner's decision as the sports league's arbitrator. Judges tend to give deference to arbitrators who are closer to the facts at hand, which leads them to defer. It is absolutely possible that Judge Berman, assuming Brady and the NFLPA will appeal a ruling in the league's favor, gives an accompanying order to allow Brady to play while the appeal is ongoing. Here, Brady could rack up points the entire season.

scenario 3: arbitration award vacated

If Judge Berman vacates the suspension, he is ruling that the league's procedure in the Brady investigation was unfair. Again, it is NOT a ruling on guilt. Of course, the NFL has the right to appeal. They would appeal, and Brady would remain eligible to play and school the Steelers and everyone else who follows as the appeal process unfolds. The NFL would need to retry the investigation with a real neutral arbitrator where all the new evidence revealed in these recent hearings (e.g., an NFL attorney's testimony stating he "edited"  the Wells Report) would pile up and backfire on the league. #FreeBrady

Yes, that was an appropriate time for a hashtag. Even if Tom Brady sits four games, his madness will be unleashed starting Game 5, and he will be free to carry my fantasy team to incredible heights. Who is ready for some real football?