NFL 'Deflategate' appeal to be heard March 3, after Super Bowl

Mon Nov 23, 2015 2:46pm EST
 
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By Jonathan Stempel and Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The federal appeals court in New York will hear on March 3 the National Football League's appeal of the lifting of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension in the "Deflategate" controversy.

Monday's scheduling order from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals should permit the league to complete its season, including Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, without disruption from the court case.

The appeals court had in late September said it might hear oral arguments as early as the week of Feb. 1.

The Patriots play the Buffalo Bills on Monday night and, as one of the league's two undefeated teams this season, are a strong contender to play in the Super Bowl again.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Brady, one of the league's biggest stars, for four games for his alleged role in a scheme to lessen the air pressure in the balls used in the Patriots' 45-7 victory over Indianapolis in January's AFC championship game.

The Patriots then went on to win Super Bowl XLIX.

The NFL is represented by former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement. He had asked the appeals court to schedule oral argument for March 3 or 4 to avoid any conflict with a pending case he has before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Patriots did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Joseph Ax in New York; Additional reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington, D.C.; Editing by Bill Trott)

 
Street vendor Julio Cortez sells "Free Brady" t-shirts in Boston, Massachusetts, August 18, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder