I never thought I'd see the day when the air pressure in footballs have the potential to turn into a cautionary tale for dock workers and truck drivers, but here we find ourselves.
Love it or hate it, believe it or deny it, but the 2nd Circuit got it right the first time around, and they simply affirmed that today. There was a contract in place, and the courts deferred to the language of that contract. To reiterate for the hundredth time, absolutely nothing that has taken place in a court of law over the past few years has had anything whatsoever to do with footballs at any point. Nor did it have anything to do with cello phones, text messages, video surveillance, or Dorito Dinks. Tom Brady was never declared guilty, or innocent, by anybody other than the NFL and its fans. Judges haven't passed a verdict of any kind declaring that guilt or innocence in a ball deflation scheme .Any talk from judges about evidence and science has been ancillary and has had nothing to do with the matter at hand. All we have been talking about since day one has been labor law, CBA negotiations, and the fact that courts are highly deferential to CBAs, especially CBAs negotiated between high-level parties. That's it. Of course, screaming "courts are deferential to CBAs!" doesn't have the same ring to it as "Tom Brady cheats and the Patriots are classless!", so I don't expect too many folks to put much weight in the fact that this was a labor dispute and nothing more. There's a case to be made about precedent being set regarding granting an arbitrator the kind of power and discretion that far exceeds what those proposing the arbitration language ever thought possible, but the problem with that argument is that contracts are binding, and unfortunately, incompetence isn't illegal.
What has been happening in regards to this case should now serve as a dangerous reminder to any organization that is looking to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement in the future. Take one look at Brady v. NFL and see just how damaging giving one man so much power can be.
(Ultimately, though, is it even that damaging? When more people are happy over the ruling than upset, profit margins remain sky high, and all of the vitriol gets directed towards one man while glossing over the real issues, this has to be seen as a win all around.)
This is a historic case in a lot of ways, and it could ultimately end up benefiting the common worker in immeasurable ways down the road. By looking at this case and how, despite rampant bungling and mismanagement from the NFL, courts can still defer to the arbiter because of powers granted in a collective bargaining agreement, union leaders are likely to fight that much harder for the rights of their members and work vehemently to limit the control and power of the administration. Workers looking to renegotiate their own respective CBAs would be very wise to see just what can happen when you hand an idiot the detonator switch and allow him to do with it what he will. When it's time for the NFL to renegotiate this CBA in a few years, you can be sure this little clause is going to get a serious overhaul. And while that doesn't help Tom Brady or Patriots fans any, I suppose there is some solace to be taken in the fact that Brady, by taking the fall here, is serving as an example of the importance of the attention that should be paid to granting arbitration rights. The 2nd Circuit judges themselves commented on how unusual it is for one man to have this much sweeping authority. But have it he does. That's just the reality.
I don't like it any more than you do - but the NFLPA made this bed. Tom Brady has to lie in it. I hope he fights it to the bitter end, but at this point it's more about remaining consistent than trying to circumvent a legally binding contract.
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Under the NFL CBA, the half-wit redheaded buffoon is king. Nobody is happy about it - but unless you decide to stop watching football, you're just going to have to accept it.