Yesterday, the NFLPA filed its suit on behalf of Tom Brady, claiming the NFL contravened and exceeded its own CBA-granted disciplinary powers in suspending him four games for Ballghazi. The suit was, as expected, filed in Minnesota, where the union has won a series of favorable judgments. It was so expected that the NFL preemptively filed in New York the day before in an attempt to keep the case out of Minnesota. The NFL wins this round.
Through the luck of the draw, the NFLPA did not end up with Minnesota district court judge David Doty, who has come down repeatedly on the players’ side. Instead they landed judge Richard H. Kyle, and in his decision this morning, Kyle says there’s really no good reason he should be hearing this case.
“The Court strongly suspects the Union filed in Minnesota because it has obtained favorable rulings from this Court in the past on behalf of its members,” Kyle wrote.
Well, no shit.
“Indeed, the Court sees little reason for this action to have been commenced in Minnesota at all. Brady plays for a team in Massachusetts; the Union is headquartered in Washington, D.C.; the NFL is headquartered in New York; the arbitration proceedings took place in New York; and the award was issued in New York.”
There’s gamesmanship on both sides here. The NFLPA clearly only sought a hearing in Minnesota in an attempt to land Doty. But the NFL had its own filing ready to go and submitted it within minutes of the Brady appeal decision coming down, and fully utilized that advantage to gain its preferred venue.
For what it’s worth, Kyle was appointed by George H.W. Bush, while Richard M. Berman, the judge who will hear the case in New York, was appointed by Bill Clinton and could be expected to be more sympathetic to labor. The next step will be the NFLPA seeking a ruling or an injunction before the Patriots kick off their season on Sept. 10.