A federal judge tossed out Tom Brady's four-game suspension on Thursday, ruling that Commissioner Roger Goodell failed to follow the procedures laid out in the NFL's collective bargaining agreement in penalizing the four-time Super Bowl champion.
It's only the latest in a series of legal setbacks for the league. Here are some of the more significant recent setbacks in player discipline:
The Atlanta Falcons quarterback served 18 months in prison for running a dogfighting ring. The Falcons tried to recoup more than $16 million in roster bonuses, but U.S. District Judge David Doty in Minnesota ruled that he had already earned the bonuses and let him keep the money.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
In 2012, Goodell suspended four players after a probe that determined former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams encouraged defensive leaders to run a cash-for-hits "bounty" pool that rewarded big and sometimes injurious hits. The players' punishments were all vacated by former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who had been tapped by the league to oversee union appeals in the matter.
One player, Scott Fujita, was cleared of wrongdoing. Tagliabue said the others engaged in "conduct detrimental" to the game, but that coaches were mostly to blame and that the player suspensions were "inappropriate."
The Baltimore Ravens running back was suspended two games after he was arrested and charged with assault following an altercation with his fiancée on an Atlantic City casino elevator. After video of the incident was released, Goodell upped the penalty to an indefinite suspension. Retired U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones, serving as an arbitrator, ruled that Goodell's failure to understand the severity of the assault was not a valid reason to levy a second suspension.
The Minnesota Vikings running back was charged with reckless or negligent injury to a child after he disciplined his 4-year-old son by hitting him with a tree branch. Goodell suspended him indefinitely, and the suspension was upheld by arbitrator Harold Henderson. Doty reversed the arbitrator's decision, saying Goodell could not apply rules announced in August to an incident that occurred the previous May. The league has appealed.
The defensive end was with the Carolina Panthers when he was suspended 10 games after the league concluded he roughed up his ex-girlfriend in his apartment in May 2014. He was convicted by a judge, but according to North Carolina law the case was thrown out on appeal when the ex-girlfriend couldn't be located to testify. Henderson reduced the suspension to four games. Hardy may appeal in light of the Brady decision.
Brady was suspended four games and the New England Patriots were docked $1 million and two draft picks for what an investigation found was the use of improperly inflated footballs in the AFC title game. U.S. District Judge Richard Berman threw out the suspension on Thursday, saying that the league violated CBA requirements of notice and fairness in penalizing Brady. The NFL has appealed.
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