The last 24 hours or so have been great for Tom Brady, they’ve been great for the New England Patriots and they’ve been great for the NFLPA.
“Pretty incredible, I have to say,” NFLPA Executive Director George Atallah said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “We’re still kind of sorting through some of the decision. Obviously when you get a 40-page decision like that, everybody jumps to the last page and goes, ‘Did we win or lose?’ And obviously we won. We’re really thrilled by this decision. It’s a great win for Tom, it’s a great win for the players in our union and we’re pretty happy. But now comes the hard part of sorting through everything and trying to figure out what’s next.”
U.S. District Judge Richard Berman ruled in favor of Brady on Thursday, nullifying a four-game suspension that the league had issued as a result of Deflategate. Berman felt the league erred in its investigative procedure and that the case lacked evidence.
“The judge’s public court sessions were really an indicator of how he felt about this case to begin with,” Atallah said. “Everybody can always guess and read the tea leaves about what he was trying to do in those open court sessions, but clearly he was being quiet literal with respect to how he felt about the merits of the case – both on the process and on the underlying evidence. That was a little bit, admittedly, a surprise to us. We proceeded with the case based on the collective bargaining agreement and the disciplinary process we were trying to protect in the collective bargaining agreement. So it was extra icing on the cake, if you will, to have seen the judge poke holes in some of the Wells Report the way that he did.”
Atallah said that the NFLPA was willing to reach a settlement with the NFL but that the league was unwilling to compromise.
“The judge made it clear to us and to everybody (that) we worked really hard,” Atallah said. “We did work really hard. I think it got to a point at the end – I can only speak from our point of view and briefly from Tom’s perspective – that we and Tom were really stuck (to) the principle of not admitting to something he didn’t believe he did, which was the Wells Report. I think that that was crucial for him. He believed that after six, seven, eight months of this that it was not in his best interest to turn back and admit to something he didn’t do. So that was really our principal decision and we were willing to make other compromises, but clearly we weren’t met halfway.”
There were reports that Brady was willing to accept a one-game suspension if the league admitted that Brady was not culpable or had any part in the deflation of footballs. Were those reports accurate?
“Reports like that, I’m always skeptical of – and it’s because you’re talking about a man’s mindset, and how do you report on a person’s mindset?” Atallah asked. “We’ve had, as you can imagine, thousands of conversations with Tom over the past six to seven months. All of those conversations have a level of strategy and decision-making and hypothetical scenarios that we run through, so I’m not going to get into whether or not he was willing to do something or another. I can tell you that we made reasonable settlement offers to the league to try to resolve this. Ultimately that didn’t happen, and the decision went his way.”