- Mary Altaffer/AP
The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York has reinstated Tom Brady’s four-game suspension in connection to the Deflategate scandal.
Three appeals court judges ruled 2-1 on Monday that the NFL’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, “properly exercised his discretion under the collective bargaining agreement” to suspend Brady for four games, overturning federal Judge Richard Berman’s September ruling to throw out Goodell’s original punishment.
The ruling ultimately came down to whether Goodell had the authority to suspend Brady, not to whether Brady had knowledge of the deflated footballs in the 2015 AFC Championship Game. From the decision:
The Commissioner was authorized to impose discipline for, among other things, “conduct detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence, in the game of professional football.” In their collective bargaining agreement, the players and the League mutually decided many years ago that the Commissioner should investigate possible rule violations, should impose appropriate sanctions, and may preside at arbitrations challenging his discipline.
The NFL had filed an appeal immediately after Berman’s ruling; it was shelved for the duration of the 2015-2016 season. Brady did not miss a game and led the Patriots to this year’s AFC Championship Game, where they fell to the Denver Broncos.
In early March, 14 months after the infamous 2015 AFC Championship game between the Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts that resulted in Deflategate, the two sides returned to court for appeals hearings.
According to reports at the time, Brady was hammered by the judges during the hearings, particularly for destroying his cellphone shortly after the incident. One judge said Brady’s decision to destroy his phone made “no sense whatsoever.”
The latest ruling means Deflategate is over – for now. If Brady decides to appeal the ruling, the case will go all the way to the US Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court justices decide not to take the case, Brady will serve his four-game suspension and the saga will be over.
In the meantime, backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to start the first four games of New England’s season. The Patriots play Arizona, Miami, Houston, and Buffalo to begin the year.