Federal Judges Robert A. Katzmann, Barrington D. Parker and Denny Chin have been appointed by an independent arbitrator to hear the NFL's appeal of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension for his apparent role in deflating footballs. Judge Berman, who heard this case in New York over the summer, had already dismissed the NFL's argument.
While no clear evidence links Brady to these accusations, the NFL believes that it is "more probable than not" that Tom Brady was "generally aware" of the situation. Brady, of course, denies any involvement saying, "I never thought about the inflation level. I never in the history of my career, I never thought about the inflation level of a ball.”
While the league was optimistic they may land conservative judges that would tend to side with businesses and/or establishments, two of the three judges were appointed by former President Bill Clinton, and current President Barack Obama, both staunch liberals.
The appeal hearing is set for March 3, but it is even more unlikely that the NFL will win this hearing. According to Sports Illustrated's Michael McCann, Judge Berman's decisions have been overturned just 17 times in 204 tries on appeal.
This entire mess would have been a non-story if the league did not come down so heavily on the Patriots. Aside from TB12's four-game suspension, the NFL also docked the Patriots organization a first- and fourth-round pick, as well as a $1 million fine, the largest in NFL history. While many fans have been calling for the reinstatement of the draft picks, Patriots owner Bob Kraft has already stated he has no intention of doing so.