Monday, April 25, 2016

Pyrrhic Deflategate Justice

by JASmius

Could there be anything more appropo than the quarterback who cheated his way into Super Bowl XLIX coming out of the closet as a Trumplican?  And could there be anything more satisfying than the pretty boy future Hall of Famer having to serve his Deflategate suspension after all?:

The NFL has won the latest round in its Deflategate legal battle, and Tom Brady is once again suspended for the first four games of the season.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled that the NFL does indeed have the authority to suspend Brady, overturning a lower court ruling and reinstating the four-game suspension that Brady was originally handed last year.

Actually, there were two more satisfying things than Brady's suspension being reinstated now: (1) It never having been set aside last summer, when the defending champion Patriots were looking at a 1-3 start and going (as it would have turned out) 9-7 and missing the playoffs, although Peyton Manning and the #1 Broncos defense came to the rescue just in time in the AFC Championship Game; or (2) it including Super Bowl XLIX, facilitating the Seattle Seahawks' repeat.  As it is, the Pats were looking at a 3-1 start this year (at Arizona, home to Miami, Houston, and Buffalo) and they're likely to post that mark even with Jimmy Garoppolo taking the snaps.

But better late than never,  I guess.  Or, more accurately, justice delayed is justice denied.

But the 2-1 majority of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals subpanel did take a stand for judicial restraint, at least:

Our review of an arbitration award under the LMRA is, accordingly, “very limited.” Garvey, 532 U.S. at 509. We are therefore not authorized to review the arbitrator’s decision on the merits despite allegations that the decision rests on factual errors or misinterprets the parties’ agreement, but inquire only as to whether the arbitrator acted within the scope of his authority as defined by the collective bargaining agreement. Because it is the arbitrator’s view of the facts and the meaning of the contract for which the twelve parties bargained, courts are not permitted to substitute their own. Misco, 484 U.S. at 37–38. It is the arbitrator’s construction of the contract and assessment of the facts that are dispositive, “however good, bad, or ugly.” Oxford Health Plans LLC v. Sutter, 133 S. Ct. 2064, 2071 (2013). Contrary to our dissenting colleague, we do not consider whether the punishment imposed was the most appropriate, or whether we are persuaded by the arbitrator’s reasoning. In short, it is not our task to decide how we would have conducted the arbitration proceedings, or how we would have resolved the dispute.

Instead, our task is simply to ensure that the arbitrator was “even arguably construing or applying the contract and acting within the scope of his authority” and did not “ignore the plain language of the contract.” Misco, 484 U.S. at 38. Even failure to “follow arbitral precedent” is no “reason to vacate an award.” Wackenhut, 126 F.3d at 32. As long as the award “‘draws its essence from the collective bargaining agreement’ and is not merely the arbitrator’s ‘own brand of industrial justice,’” it must be confirmed.... 
Here, the parties contracted in the CBA to specifically allow the Commissioner to sit as the arbitrator in all disputes brought pursuant to Article 46, Section 1(a). They did so knowing full well that the Commissioner had the sole power of determining what constitutes “conduct detrimental,” and thus knowing that the Commissioner would have a stake both in the underlying discipline and in every arbitration brought pursuant to Section 1(a). Had the parties wished to restrict the Commissioner’s authority, they could have fashioned a different agreement.[emphases added]

In short, binding arbitration was duly and collectively bargained into the current NFL CBA, and as long as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was acting within the scope of his authority per that CBA, Brady and the NFLPA had no legal grounds for going over his and the league's heads to the federal courts just because they didn't like the result.  Put another way, it was a very "Trumpesque" thing to do, and the Second Circuit has declared that "Just win, baby!" ain't gonna cut it.

Will there be an appeal to the SCOTUS?  Brady has the ego to pursue it (he is a Trumper, after all), but I can't imagine why Olympus would bother hearing it, since they've got enough on their plates on an ongoing basis without adding this frivilousness.

And thus another episode of "Cheaties"....

....comes to a close with the ill-gotten gain remaining got.... likely impact on the first four games of the Patriots' 2016 season, and a grand total cost to Brady himself of 250 grand, since his base salary this year is a paltry (for an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback worth an estimated $120 million) million bucks.

You tell me how overinflating those balls wasn't totally worth it.

And you can't.

Told you this justice was Pyrrhic.

UPDATE: That didn't take long:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is weighing in on Deflategate, saying "Leave Tom Brady alone."

Trump made his comments during a campaign appearance in Rhode Island on Monday, soon after a federal appeals court ruled the New England Patriots quarterback must serve a four-game suspension imposed by the NFL.

Trump told hundreds of people at the rally that Brady is a "great guy" and "it's enough."

Buzzards of a feather....

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