The Latest: Falcons owner says Goodell protecting rights

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NEW YORK (AP) — The latest on a federal judge's decision to overturn the NFL's four-game suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the "Deflategate" scandal (all times Eastern):

7:35 p.m.

Tom Brady is not in uniform for the New England Patriots' final preseason game, against the New York Giants.

Hours after a federal judge's decision to overturn Brady's four-game suspension handed down by the NFL in the "Deflategate" scandal, Brady is not on the sideline for the game.

Several fans chanted "BRADY, BRADY," when the team came out of the locker room into the bowl of the stadium, but the quarterback was nowhere to be seen.

Recently signed Ryan Lindley, a third-stringer at best, started the game.


7 p.m.

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank says he understands why NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is appealing a federal judge's decision to overturn the NFL's four-game suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Blank says he believes Goodell is "trying to protect the rights that for decades we've collectively bargained for."

Blank says he thinks the rights are important and shouldn't be bargained again in federal court.

Even so, Blank says spending more time in the legal dispute "and not as focused on the game as you would like to be is not a healthy thing."

Blank suggests it may be time to revisit the system that makes Goodell the sole arbiter of cases.

He says Goodell and owners "have to be prepared to look at change, and change may be appropriate."


4:10 p.m.

Patriots Nation is crowing after a federal judge erased quarterback Tom Brady's four-game "Deflategate" suspension.

The decision rippled through lunchtime conversations among office workers, construction crews and tourists in downtown Boston on Thursday.

Fans heading to Gillette Stadium for Thursday's final exhibition against the New York Giants said they were energized by the ruling.

Many, like Peter Cordero, of Revere, Massachusetts, never doubted the NFL's punishment would be overturned.

Some, like Maine resident Rachel Cote, expressed frustration the controversy even got this far, dampening the glow of last season's championship and casting a shadow over the franchise.

But like their beloved team, fans like Eric Newman of Swampscott, Massachusetts, said they're laser focused on exacting revenge in the season ahead.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, meanwhile, jokingly declared September 3 "Tom Brady Day" as other New England politicians joined in celebrating on social networks.


4 p.m.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell won't attend the league's season opening showcase between the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers.

League spokesman Brian McCarthy said Thursday that Goodell wants the focus to be the game itself and celebrations of New England's win in the Super Bowl.

McCarthy says Goodell will watch the game on TV and attend another game during the league's opening weekend.


3:30 p.m.

The White House has weighed in on the "Deflategate" ruling.

When asked about the scandal during a briefing Thursday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said he thinks the people happiest with the ruling are Patriots fans and fantasy football players who drafted Tom Brady at a bargain price.

Earnest says he thinks "there is a lot of good natured ribbing that is going on in fantasy football leagues even before the season starts."


3:15 p.m.

The NFL has appealed its overturned suspension of New England quarterback Tom Brady to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The league filed its appeal Thursday, several hours after U.S. District Judge Richard Berman sided with Brady and nullified a four-game suspension backed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The NFL notified Berman of its decision. A clerk for the judge then forwarded the electronic case file to the appeals court, which also sits in Manhattan.


1:55 p.m.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy says that while the league is appealing the federal judge's decision in "Deflategate," it isn't seeking an emergency stay.

That frees New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to play while an appeals court considers the case. U.S. District Judge Richard Berman overturned the NFL's four-game suspension of Brady on Thursday.

The Patriots open Sept. 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.


1:45 p.m.

A person with knowledge of Greg Hardy's plans says the NFL Players Association will be consulted over whether the Dallas defensive end will challenge his four-game suspension in court after a federal judge tossed Tom Brady's punishment.

The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because a decision hasn't been made, said Thursday that Hardy would seek a recommendation from the union.

Hardy was suspended for his involvement in a domestic violence case in North Carolina while he played for the Carolina Panthers. He was on the commissioner's exempt list for all but one game last season while his case was still in the legal system. He received his $13 million salary.

A 10-game suspension from Commissioner Roger Goodell was reduced to four games by arbitrator Harold Henderson in July.

Goodell suspended Hardy after the NFL saw photos and other evidence that led the league to conclude the 27-year-old player roughed up ex-girlfriend Nicole Holder in his apartment in May 2014. He was convicted by a judge, but the case was thrown out on appeal when Holder couldn't be located to testify.


1:15 p.m.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft says his team can finally return its focus from "Deflategate" to the game on the field.

Kraft said in a statement Thursday that he is grateful for the "thoughtful" decision by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman to overturn the NFL's four-game suspension of Tom Brady over underinflated footballs in a playoff game last season.

Kraft says Brady is of the "highest integrity" and represents everything that is great about football and the NFL.

Kraft says the league's lawyers insisted on imposing and defending unwarranted discipline, despite having no evidence of wrongdoing.


12:20 p.m.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league will appeal a federal judge's ruling striking down Tom Brady's four-game suspension in "Deflategate."

Goodell said in a statement Thursday that it's paramount to protect the integrity of the game and his office's responsibilities under the collective bargaining agreement with players.


11:45 a.m.

The executive director of the NFL Players Association says a judge overturning Tom Brady's four-game "Deflategate" suspension shows that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell needs to act fairly.

DeMaurice Smith said in a statement Thursday that the players contract does not allow Goodell to be arbitrary and misleading when he uses his power to discipline players.

Smith says the decision by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman should signal to all NFL team owners that collective bargaining is better than legal losses, leading to "far better results."


11:25 a.m.

Sports books in Las Vegas are shifting their odds on the Patriots now that a federal judge has ruled quarterback Tom Brady can play right away.

Odds compiled by gambling expert R.J. Bell of show New England's chances of winning the Super Bowl at 8-1, compared with 10-1 before the resolution in the "Deflategate" scandal.

The ruling erased a four game suspension dished out by the NFL in the dispute over underinflated footballs in the AFC championship game last season.

Las Vegas casinos moved the Patriots from a 2.5-point favorite to a 7-point favorite in their opener Sept. 10 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Had the suspension been upheld, the Patriots would have started Jimmy Garoppolo instead of Brady.


11:15 a.m.

The Patriots are letting a photo do their talking on "Deflategate."

Team owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick have not yet commented on a judge overturning the four-game suspension of quarterback Tom Brady on Thursday, but the team tweeted a celebratory photo of its star.

The photo ( ) shows Brady pumping his right fist and celebrating during the Patriots' Super Bowl win last season.


10:45 a.m.

The federal judge who overturned a four-game suspension for Tom Brady says the discipline over underinflated footballs was NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's "own brand of industrial justice."

U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman said Thursday that the suspension was based on several significant legal deficiencies.

Berman says that includes failing to notify Brady of potential penalties equivalent to what would be imposed on a player who used performance-enhancing drugs.

The judge says Brady was also denied equal access to investigative files, including witness interview notes, and didn't have a chance to examine one of two lead investigators.

The written decision frees Brady to prepare for the Sept. 10 season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.


10:15 a.m.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady can suit up for his team's season opener after a judge erased his four-game suspension for "Deflategate."

The surprise ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman came Thursday after more than one month of failed settlement talks between the NFL and its players' union. Many legal experts believed the judge was merely pressuring the sides to settle when he criticized the NFL's handling of the case at two hearings in August.

But the judge wasn't posturing.

He came out forcefully in Brady's favor, maligning the NFL for its handling of the scandal that erupted after the AFC championship game in January, when officials discovered during the first half that Brady used underinflated footballs. New England beat the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 then won the Super Bowl two weeks later.

An NFL investigation led to Brady's suspension, which Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld.


Associated Press writers Philip Marcelo in Boston, Nancy Benac in Washington and AP sports writers Schuyler Dixon in Dallas, Jimmy Golen in Boston and Charles Odum in Atlanta contributed to this report.


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