Whether it’s on the field or in the courtroom, Tom Brady is one tough competitor. U.S. District Judge Richard Berman today nullified the league’s four game suspension levied against the Patriots quarterback stemming from the so-called Deflategate scandal. As a result, Brady will start in next week's NFL season opener, a Thursday night contest airing Sept. 10 on NBC.
The decision came after multiple settlement attempts by Brady, the NFL Players Association and the NFL.
The NFL had based the suspension on the findings of Ted Wells, an independent investigator hired by the league to look into whether Brady was complicit in game balls being deflated below regulation last season, presumably giving the passer better control over the ball. Berman's ruling centered on the fact that the players had not been explicitly advised that a ball-related infraction could result in game suspension, as opposed to merely a fine, as has been assessed in some similar cases involving other players on other teams.
The New England Patriots take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in a marquee matchup in Massachusetts that kicks off the 2015-2016 season.
NBC airs that game, then commences its Sunday schedule with Giants versus Cowboys a few days later.
The NFL immediately announced it will appeal the ruling, but has not sought an injunction to bar Brady from playing, so the regular season and post season should be able to unfold while the legal gears continue grinding. At stake for the NFL is its long-term right to hand out game suspensions. But for Brady, the coast for now is clear.