Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension over the “Deflategate” scandal has been nullified by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman, allowing the quarterback to start for the New England Patriots in week one of the NFL season.
The decision is a huge blow to the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell, who decided to go to court to affirm the commissioner’s decision to uphold Brady’s suspension.
The judge ruled that Brady couldn’t have known he risked a four-game suspension for having “general awareness” of the conditions of the football.
In a statement, Goodell said the league would appeal the ruling “to uphold the collectively bargained responsibility to protect the integrity of the game.”
He added, “The commissioner’s responsibility to secure the competitive fairness of our game is a paramount principle, and the league and our 32 clubs will continue to pursue a path to that end.”
Berman criticized the league during court hearings, pointing to a lack of proof against Brady and challenging Goodell on how he settled on a four-game suspension. He also urged both sides to turn down the heated rhetoric over the dispute.
At a Monday hearing, the judge said both sides had “tried quite hard” to strike a deal, but failed to do, leaving it up to him to render a final verdict. His ruling does not end the dispute permanently as the NFL can file an appeal.
The Deflategate scandal was born after it was revealed the Patriots used deflated balls during their victory over the Indianapolis Colts in January’s AFC Championship game.
New England went on to defeat the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
News and sports media have seized on the news, covering the fallout wall-to-wall.