Berman said Goodell went too far in affirming punishment of the Super Bowl winning quarterback. Brady has insisted he played no role in a conspiracy to deflate footballs below the allowable limit at last season’s AFC championship game.
The suspension was “premised upon several significant legal deficiencies” including the failure to notify Brady of potential penalties, Berman wrote in his opinion, noting that an arbitrator’s factual findings are generally not open to judicial challenge.
“Because there was no notice of a four-game suspension in the circumstances presented here, Commissioner Goodell may be said to have `dispensed his own brand of industrial justice,'” Berman wrote, partially citing wording from a previous case.
The judge said Brady had no notice of his possible suspension for general awareness of ball deflation by others or participation in any scheme to deflate football and for not cooperating with an investigation.
“Brady also had no notice that his discipline would be the equivalent of the discipline imposed upon a player who used performance enhancing drugs,” Berman said.
Brady was also denied equal access to investigative files, including witness interview notes, and didn’t have a chance to examine one of two lead investigators, the judge said.
The written decision frees Brady to prepare for the Sept. 10 season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.