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The Commish vs. The Quarterback: Setting the Stage for the Next Labor Dispute in the NFL

After the Patriots’ crushing defeat in Super Bowl LII, the conversation has focused on whether perennial MVP Quarterback Tom Brady’s “Hail Mary” pass in the dwindling seconds of the game will be his last.

However, Tom Brady’s contributions to professional football are not limited to his on-the-field play. Significantly, Brady’s involvement in the Deflategate Scandal will continue to impact the National Football League (NFL) long after he decides to hang up his cleats. As a result of Deflategate, Brady was handed a four-game suspension for his awareness of Patriots’ personnel tampering with game day footballs, and his part in obstructing a subsequent investigation into the infraction. Before ultimately serving his suspension in 2016, Brady and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) challenged the league’s discipline decision through the NFL grievance procedure and in federal court. Now, three years removed, the pertinent question is not whether Brady’s suspension was valid, but rather how a case that almost reached the U.S. Supreme Court altered the legal landscape of the league.

The Commish vs. The Quarterback: Setting the Stage for the Next Labor Dispute in the NFL published this month in the Virginia Sports and Entertainment Law Journal examines Brady’s discipline appeal and its lasting effects not only on the NFL, but also modern interpretation of law governing labor arbitrations. Additionally, the article contemplates how Deflategate has impacted subsequent NFL discipline cases as well as the relationship between the NFL and the NFLPA. This relationship will be of particular importance over the next several years as both sides engage in negotiations over the league’s collective bargaining agreement which expires after the 2020 season.

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About this Author

Mary K. Braza, Foley Lardner, Sports Industry Team Lawyer, Franchise Acquisition Attorney
Partner

Mary K. Braza is a partner and litigation lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP and a former member of the firm’s management committee. As co-chair of the Sports Industry Team, she advises stakeholders in significant sports franchise acquisitions and valuations; stadium/arena financings, redevelopments and ancillary developments; and issues surrounding league and team operations such as broadcast television and radio deals, regional sports networks, new media, social media, mobile rights, sponsorship agreements, naming rights, concession and merchandising agreements, and...

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Nicole Marschean, Law Graduate, Foley Lardner Law Firm
Law Graduate

Nicole M. Marschean is a law graduate with Foley & Lardner LLP. She is a member of the firm's Business Litigation & Dispute Resolution Practice.

In 2016, Ms. Marschean was a Foley summer associate, where she worked in the firm’s Litigation Department. Prior to Foley, she was a legal intern for Major League Baseball’s Labor Relations Department.Before attending law school, Ms. Marschean served as a high school special education teacher and case manager in Chicago through Teach for America.

She is part of Foley Lardner's Sports Industry team. Her practices areas include litigation and dispute resolution. 

Education 

Ms. Marschean earned her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law (J.D., 2017), where she assisted in teaching legal research and writing to first year law students. Additionally, she served as the editor in chief of the Virginia Sports & Entertainment Law Journal. Ms. Marschean received an interdisciplinary degree in communications, legal institutions, economics and government from American University (B.A., magna cum laude, 2011).

Ms. Marschean is currently not admitted to practice under any state bar. 

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