September 9, 2015 / 11:11 PM / 2 years ago

Dear Judge Berman: fan letters in 'Deflategate' show passion, anger

3 Min Read

Judge Richard Berman listens to proceedings in this courtroom sketch during hearing in Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York August 12, 2015.Jane Rosenberg

NEW YORK (Reuters) - If the surreal saga known as "Deflategate" has proven anything, it is that National Football League fans take their sport, and Tom Brady, very seriously.

Look no further than the people – including a lawyer, a chemist and a schoolteacher – who wrote approximately 20 letters to U.S. District Judge Richard Berman last month while he considered whether to uphold the New England Patriots quarterback's four-game suspension for an alleged scheme to deflate footballs used in a January playoff game.

Massachusetts attorney Steven Kramer challenged Brady's suspension on grounds including "double jeopardy, issue preclusion and collateral estoppel," a legal doctrine that protects defendants from being tried more than once in a criminal trial for the same issue.

Another man submitted a 61-page brief undercutting the NFL's scientific evidence that the balls were intentionally deflated.

Vanessa Ivelich, a teacher in Reno, Nevada, asked Berman to uphold Brady's ban for her students' sake.

"How can teachers and coaches expect youngsters to abide by the rules of fair play if their favorite player doesn't have to?" she asked.

Berman threw out Brady's punishment on Sept. 3, saying the NFL's appeal process suffered from serious legal flaws. The league has said it is appealing the court decision.

The suspension was imposed over the footballs used in the first half of the Patriots' 45-7 victory against the Indianapolis Colts that sent them to the Super Bowl, where they defeated the Seattle Seahawks.

The letters, mostly written in August, were posted publicly on Wednesday in New York federal court.

The judge had pushed the two sides to settle the case, an outcome some fans supported.

Liz Minnerly, a Patriots fan, suggested the team concede the 17 unanswered points they scored during the first half of the Colts game, when the controversial footballs were used.

That would make the final score 28-7, she wrote, while Brady could serve a half-game suspension.

Other fans performed their own versions of the scientific experiments the NFL commissioned to determine whether the footballs were deliberately deflated.

Mark Saito, a chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, told Berman his tests showed that winter weather could result in depressurized balls.

“I have considered working up these results for a peer-reviewed scientific publication, but frankly, I should probably spend my limited energies on our studies of the oceans,” he wrote.

A woman, or perhaps a young girl, suggested in a handwritten note that Berman need look no further than the Colts game, wondering how a receiver who scored a touchdown could spike a deflated ball "about 5 feet or more" in celebration.

"Mega cheers for Tom Brady," she concluded.

Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Alan Crosby

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