U.S. appeals court restores Brady's 'Deflategate' suspension

Mon Apr 25, 2016 3:47pm EDT
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By Nate Raymond and Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Monday restored the four-game "Deflategate" suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, handing the National Football League a victory in the latest round in a battle with one of its marquee players.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York reversed a federal judge's ruling that had overturned NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's decision to penalize Brady, twice the league's most valuable player, over his alleged involvement in a scheme to deflate footballs used in a 2015 playoff game.

The Patriots won that game over the Indianapolis Colts, sending them to the Super Bowl, where they defeated the defending champion Seattle Seahawks to give Brady his fourth championship title.

Writing for the majority, U.S. Circuit Judge Barrington Parker said that under the players' collective bargaining agreement, Goodell had "especially broad" authority as an arbitrator to decide whether to confirm Brady's suspension.

"Our review of the record yields the firm conclusion that the Commissioner properly exercised his broad discretion to resolve an intramural controversy between the League and a player," Parker wrote.

Neither the Patriots, nor representatives for Brady were immediately available to comment on the ruling. The National Football League Players Association, the union which pursued the court challenge, said in a statement it was disappointed and would "consider all of our options."

Those options could include seeking rehearing from the 2nd Circuit or asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

A statement from the NFL welcomed the decision for recognizing that Goodell "properly exercised" his authority as laid out by the collective bargaining agreement "to act in cases involving the integrity of the game."   Continued...

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady exits the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in New York, August 31, 2015.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid