While Judge Richard M. Berman hasn’t been exactly friendly to the NFL’s position in the case the NFL filed to uphold the suspension of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, it could have been worse for the league.
If the NFL hadn’t won the race to the courthouse (thanks to the head start that Arbitrator Roger Goodell provided to Commissioner Roger Goodell), the NFL Players Association may have filed the first lawsuit in Minnesota. And lawsuit could have landed on the docket of Judge David Doty. And whatever the outcome in New York before Judge Berman, it could have been worse before Judge Doty.
On Wednesday, Judge Doty heard oral arguments in the NFLPA’s request for a finding that the league and Goodell are in contempt of court by failing to act in response to Judge Doty’s order vacating the Adrian Peterson suspension. The union contends that the league merely waited for Peterson’s suspension to end under its original terms, taking no action to reconsider the punishment in the wake of the decision that the league applied the new Personal Conduct Policy retroactively to Peterson and deferring to the effort to appeal Judge Doty’s decision to a higher court.
“I’m not sure the Commissioner understands there is a CBA,” Judge Doty said in open court, via Tom Pelissero of USA Today.
At one point, Judge Doty asked NFLPA outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler whether the union wants a My Cousin Vinny-style punishment for Goodell.
“Jail time – is that what you want?” Doty asked Kessler. “Do you want us to put the Commissioner in jail?”
Kessler said he merely wants an order directing arbitrator Harold Henderson to issue a new ruling consistent with Judge Doty’s order, along with an award of attorney’s fees arising from the effort.
Judge Doty took the matter under advisement, directing the parties to attempt to work out their differences with the involvement of Magistrate Judge Jamie S. Mayeron.