The New York judge who ruled against the National Football League in "Deflategate" said Monday that the New England Patriots showed with their Super Bowl victory "never to quit."
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman in Manhattan congratulated the Patriots in an email to The Associated Press.
"Last night, they showed us all never to quit, everything is possible, and the importance of teamwork," wrote the judge who had required that quarterback Tom Brady and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell attend proceedings in his courtroom in August 2015.
He also gave a shout-out to the Patriots' coach, Bill Belichick.
"Beyond congratulations, I'll say no more about football - until Coach Belichick is ready to discuss Supreme Court cases about mandatory arbitration clauses," he said in a lighthearted reference to the kinds of arcane legal subjects many people would find boring.
Denny Chin, one of two judges on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who forced Brady to serve the suspension last year, offered his congratulations to the Patriots and Atlanta Falcons for a "terrific Super Bowl" and singled out Brady in particular, saying he "showed once again why he is one of the all-time best."
The league had asked Berman to affirm Goodell's decision to uphold a four-game suspension of Brady after the commissioner appointed himself as the arbitrator of the quarterback's appeal. The NFL Players Association opposed the request and filed its own claims.
Berman, who referred to the controversy as the "deflation situation," nullified Tom Brady's four-game suspension in September 2015, finding Goodell went "far beyond" the factual findings of the NFL's investigation into the deflated footballs.
In a report on that probe, attorney Ted Wells concluded it was likely Brady was "generally aware" about the deflation of footballs. When Goodell upheld the penalty in July 2015, he said Brady "knew about, approved of, consented to and provided inducements and rewards" to support the scheme.
Brady's suspension resulted from claims the Patriots deflated footballs to gain a competitive advantage in the AFC championship game in January 2015, when New England beat the Indianapolis Colts 45-7. The Patriots then won the Super Bowl. When he ruled, Berman noted that Brady's statistics were better in the second half of the game, when the balls were properly inflated.
A federal appeals panel reversed Berman's ruling last spring in a 2-1 decision. Brady served the suspension at the start of the season capped by Sunday's 34-28 overtime victory against the Atlanta Falcons.