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Judges may favor Tom Brady in NFL appeal

In September, federal judge Richard Berman ruled that the NFL had exceeded its authority in imposing a four-game suspension on Patriots quaterback Tom Brady over his role in Deflategate.
In September, federal judge Richard Berman ruled that the NFL had exceeded its authority in imposing a four-game suspension on Patriots quaterback Tom Brady over his role in Deflategate.RICHARD DREW/ASSOCIATED PRESS-FILE

The panel of three judges set to hear the NFL’s appeal against Tom Brady and the NFL Players Association was named on Thursday, a week before the sides will meet in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The judges, which were drawn at random, are Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann, judge Denny Chin, and senior-status judge Barrington D. Parker. Katzmann was appointed by former president Bill Clinton, Chin by president Barack Obama and Parker by former president George W. Bush.

The NFL and NFLPA will present oral arguments for about 15 minutes each next Thursday afternoon in New York City, and two judges rulings are necessary for either side to win. That two of the judges were appointed by Democrats could play in Brady’s favor, as they often side with labor in legal disputes.

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At issue is whether federal judge Richard Berman ruled properly in September when he decided that the NFL management council and commissioner Roger Goodell had exceeded their authority to impose a four-game suspension to Brady over his role in Deflategate. Berman vacated the punishment, which allowed Brady to play the entire 2015 NFL season. The NFL argues that the league’s collective bargaining agreement gives Goodell broad authority to punish players who violate “the integrity of the game.”

If Brady wins again, the NFL could try to bring the case in front of the US Supreme Court. If the NFL wins, Brady could be facing a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season.


Ben Volin can be reached at ben.volin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin