Controversy, Patriots

The Real Story on Judge Berman and Robert Kraft

kraft hamptonsDo you see the picture on the right? They seem to know each other pretty well—smiling and laughing and having a good old time. The men’s names in this picture are Ron Perelman (left), Robert Kraft (center), and Jack Welch (right.)

You can read those names listed under the photo on the gossip website who broke the story, Page Six, here.

It wouldn’t be uncommon to assume this was a photo of Kraft with Judge Berman. The display along with the headline is very misleading, but what else can you expect from a gossip-tabloid style website?

Okay, so you accept that there is no photo of Kraft and Berman “mingling”, but you want to know why a NY federal judge who has just overturned Tom Brady’s case was seen “mingling” with the Patriots’ owner at a party.

Here’s the facts:

This party is also a business/media event

Discovery Communications CEO, David Zaslav, throws a Labor Day media party in the New York Hamptons every year. What is a media party? Well, it’s a fun way to do business and network. According to Claire Atkinson of the New York Post, “if you are in the market to either buy or sell an entertainment company, there’s a good chance you were on the guest list.”

Kraft recently resigned from the board of directors with Viacom (a media corporation) and serves as Chairman of the NFL’s Broadcasting Committee

Media and entertainment is a part of Kraft’s game as a businessman and as Chairman of the NFL’s Broadcasting Committee. Thus, being invited to a media party along with other big names such as Oprah Winfrey, is not strange or unusual.

Read more about Kraft’s bio here.

Judge Berman was the executive vice president for the Warner Cable Company from 1978-1986 before becoming a federal judge

Judge Berman is no stranger to media corporations and he also happens to live in New York. The Hamptons are in New York.

Read more about Judge Berman here.

The NFL filed the case first in a New York Federal Court while Tom Brady and the NFLPA tried to get their case heard in Minnesota

There is a couple of conspiracy theories going around because of this story that Robert Kraft and Judge Berman are either buddies and there was a conflict of interest, or worse, that Kraft bribed the judge to overturn Brady’s case. There are several problems with such theories:

  1. The NFL chose the court by racing to the New York court first, not Brady, Kraft or the NFLPA.
  2. A judge is randomly selected to hear a case.
  3. Judge Berman was appointed by Democratic President, Bill Clinton.
  4. Democrats tend to lean in favor of the union over management, so long as the ruling is within legal boundaries.
  5. The NFL vs. Brady/NFLPA case was not the first time Berman ruled in favor of the union.
  6. Neither Kraft or Berman wrote out the guest list for the media party.
  7. Judge Berman opened the hearing and appeal transcripts to the public, despite the NFL’s wish to keep it private.
  8. Judge Berman is known as a settlement judge and pushed for the NFL and Brady/NFLPA to settle.

Judge Berman has an impeccable reputation and served as a Federal Judge for over a decade, and was appointed a Senior Federal Judge in 2011.

I highly doubt, a respected Senior Federal Judge would risk his reputation for anyone, least of all Robert Kraft.

The closest connection anyone could find between Mr. Kraft and Richard Berman is this:

bart berman kraft

The only problem? Richard Case and Richard Berman have not worked together since 1974:

rebuttle

“Deflategate” turned into a high profile case in which Judge Berman himself opened to the media. I’m sure he would have been more than pleased to pass this along to someone else and recuse himself if there was a conflict of interest.

Why Robert Kraft and Judge Berman “mingled” at this media party:

It was an untimely and unfortunate chance meeting for both parties involved. Despite the fact that “mingling” at a media party does not pose as a conflict of interest, especially after the case is complete, I respect the intelligence of both men enough to say that they would not knowingly plan to attend any party together where there are hundreds of witnesses just days after Judge Berman’s ruling. Robert Kraft for one, is far too PR savvy.

Even a gossip website such as Page Six has to confirm the facts in which a Patriots representative confirmed,“It was a chance encounter at a social event with hundreds of guests. There was a brief introduction and an exchange of pleasantries that lasted no more than a couple of minutes.”

In some ways I feel I should apologize to Judge Berman. He doesn’t deserve this. Judge Berman was a randomly selected federal judge from a court where the NFL chose to file. It isn’t Berman’s fault that “deflategate” reared it’s ugly head in yet another conspiracy theory that holds no grounds or basis to tarnish a respected judge’s reputation in any way, shape or form.

And here I thought we were finally going to move on to football.

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