By Martin Gallagher
The legal clock is ticking down for Patriot quarterback Tom Brady’s appeal of his four-game suspension imposed by the NFL over Deflategate.
A federal appeals court today rejected Brady’s attempt to get a new hearing.
Brady was asking for the full 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the case. In April, a three-judge panel said that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was within his powers when he suspended the star quarterback four games for his role in a scheme to doctor the footballs used in a Jan. 18, 2015, playoff game.
Today’s decision affirms the wide-ranging powers given to the commissioner by the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement and was a setback for organized labor groups arguing for due process in employee discipline.
Brady’s remaining hope is to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Patriots open the season Sept. 11 at Arizona. If Brady is suspended, backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would take his place against the Cardinals,Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills.
Brady, who signed a two-year contract extension during the offseason that dropped his 2016 salary from $9 million to $1 million to save himself almost $2 million in lost salary during the suspension, would then make his regular-season debut in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns.
What began as an accusation of cheating in the 2015 AFC championship game has grown into a multimillion-dollar legal battle over three NFL seasons, involving not just an MVP quarterback but also some of the elite lawyers and scientists in the country.
And as it developed, it evolved from a dispute about the air pressure in footballs into a referendum on the powers of a sport’s commissioner and the right of all unionized employees to due process in a disciplinary hearing.
Joining the case along the way were longtime league adversary Jeffrey Kessler and former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson, who was involved in the Bush v. Gore lawsuit that settled the 2000 presidential election and the case that overturned California’s ban on same-sex marriages. Piping in with friend of the court briefs were the AFL-CIO and scholars from some of the top legal and scientific institutions in the country.