A federal appeals court in New York has ruled that New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady must serve a four-game suspension initiated by the NFL stemming from the Deflategate scandal that rocked the league prior to the beginning of last season.
The 2-1 decision will force Brady to miss games against the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills. The settlement may end the legal debate over whether or not Brady had prior knowledge of his Patriots using under-inflated footballs during the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts in January 2015, a game they won in route to a Super Bowl title.
“We hold that the Commissioner properly exercised his broad discretion under the collective bargaining agreement and that his procedural rulings were properly grounded in that agreement and did not deprive Brady of fundamental fairness,” the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said on Monday following the decision. “Our obligation is limited to determining whether the arbitration proceedings and award met the minimum legal standards established by the Labor Management Relations Act.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the suspension was deserved. “We are pleased the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled today that the Commissioner properly exercised his authority under the collective bargaining agreement to act in cases involving the integrity of the game,” he stated.
The NFLPA was disappointed in the ruling, but insisted that it will evaluate all possible options.
“We fought Roger Goodell’s suspension of Tom Brady because we know he did not serve as a fair arbitrator and that players’ rights were violated under our collective bargaining agreement,” they said. Despite Brady and the NFLPA being able to take their case to the Supreme Court, it would be unlikely due to the time-consuming and money-spending process. Rather, they could opt to petition for a re-hearing in front of the same panel. Either way, the NFLPA would have to request a stay of Brady’s suspension during an appeal process.
Goodell and the NFL have the option to implement the entire suspension or attempt to reach a settlement without risking any more appeals.
If the four-game ban is upheld, Brady would be eligible to return to the field in Week 5 on the road against the Cleveland Browns.
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