A group of New England Patriots fans has sued the NFL in an effort to recover the first-round draft pick that was taken from the team as punishment for the “Deflategate” scandal.
The seven fans include a season ticket holder from Connecticut who said the scandal has left his seven-year-old daughter disillusioned and a Florida man who said the NFL’s sanctions have caused him stress and lost sleep.
The complaint filed on Tuesday in US district court in Boston says the NFL made an “arbitrary and capricious” decision to revoke the pick in this month’s draft even though there is no proof the team deliberately deflated footballs in the 18 January 2015, AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The complaint alleges, among other things, common law fraud, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and racketeering.
The NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, and team owner, Robert Kraft, are named as defendants.
The complaint says the league and Goodell relied on “false premises and biased ‘investigations’” in handing down punishment, which also included a $1m fine and a four-game suspension for quarterback Tom Brady. Brady’s suspension remains under appeal.
The suit criticises Kraft for not fighting the league’s punishments harder.
“Defendant Robert Kraft had remedies to attempt to get plaintiffs’ draft pick back, but he chose his fellow billionaire owners above the plaintiffs and fellow fans,” the suit said.
Sports law experts tell the Boston Herald the suit is a Hail Mary because fans don’t have standing in the matter.
“Paying for a ticket to watch the Patriots play isn’t interfered with by the team losing a draft pick or two,” said Michael McCann, a sports law professor at the University of New Hampshire Law School.