Lester Munson is one of the “legal experts” on ESPN who has been breaking down the Tom Brady vs. NFL matter since the original Ted Wells report came out in May. He has certainly been all-in on Brady having no chance from the outset and spoke with far more certainty than one should when dealing with these legal matters. No doubt, he probably thinks Brady has no chance still today.
Here are a sampling. Back in May, ESPN published a Q&A by Munson on the topic.
Q: Can Brady win a reduction in the suspension or eliminate the suspension entirely?
A: No. The evidence gathered by attorney Ted Wells for the NFL’s investigation is clear and convincing.
Q: What advantages, if any, does Brady enjoy in this appeal?
A: In reality, just the notion that it cannot get any worse for him.
Indeed, it did not get any worse for Brady. He is still playing in week 5.
After the case went to federal court following Goodell’s ruling, Munson doubled down even more, in a piece that praised a “brilliant sentence” in Goodell’s ruling he called “masterly.”
Question: Will Brady succeed in court and stop the NFL from suspending him for four games?
Answer: No, Brady will not succeed. Although he enjoys top-of-the-line legal representation and his lawyers will file a brilliantly written lawsuit, his effort to stop the suspension is doomed.
Doomed! I mean, no wonder the NFL was so dismissive of settling. Brady not only had to overcome hurdles, he was doomed!
And then, after Berman actually held a hearing where he strongly questioned and criticized the NFL repeatedly, Munson saw nothing but a tactic to force settlement, and grew even stronger in his resolve that this meant the total annihilation of Tom Brady.
In this case, recognizing that the NFL has convincing evidence and significant legal precedents on its side, Berman knows the only way he can produce a settlement is to show the league that there is a possibility it could lose a case that it should win. That is why he devoted most of a hearing Wednesday to picking apart the Goodell opinion and the league’s legal position.
That crazy judge, trying to show the NFL that there was a minute chance that it could lose in hopes of ending it. Good thing the NFL didn’t fall for that ruse.
The strength of the NFL position in the litigation is indisputable. It is based on powerful legal precedents that severely limit a federal judge’s review of an arbitration decision and on the convincing evidence gathered for the Wells report and described in surprisingly powerful terms in Goodell’s decision.
I’m beginning to think that Munson has a fatal attraction for Goodell.
The weakness of Brady’s legal position is clear in any consideration of the arguments offered by Brady, the union, and the union lawyers. Jeffrey Kessler and his team of lawyers from the firm of Winston and Strawn are the most resourceful advocates I have seen in 25 years of reporting on legal issues in sports. The best they have come up with in their briefs and arguments in support of Brady are vague assertions of “fundamental fairness” and the “evident partiality” of Goodell as the arbitrator.
As it turns out, the judge agreed that, while the NFL is entitled to deference, it went beyond even that by all the various things that it pulled. Here’s to hoping we get more Lester Munson analysis on this one. Spot on so far.