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Deflategate officially ended 544 days after it started, but we can't stop talking about it

Deflategate seems to be over, and Tom Brady will serve his four-game suspension. Well into its second year, DeflateGate was 544 days old before it was mercifully put to rest.

Andrew Burton/Getty Images

It took nearly two years -- 544 days to be exact -- but the Deflategate saga finally came to an end on Friday, July 15, 2016. In January 2015 it was reported that the NFL was investigating the possibility that the New England Patriots played the AFC Championship against the Indianapolis Colts with partially deflated footballs. Six months later, deflated footballs, a debate over cheating and the Patriots are back in the Super Bowl, their seventh with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

In May 2015, the league handed down a four-game suspension to quarterback Tom Brady for his role in the incident and docked the Patriots a first-round draft pick. The Patriots accepted their punishment but Brady did not, forcing NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to uphold the suspension on appeal.

But Goodell's decision was overturned, then that decision was also been overturned. At that point, no end to the Deflategate saga was expected any time soon. Brady was allowed to play every game of the 2015 season and many expected Brady would make his way onto the field for the first four games of 2016 as well.

Heck, some thought even if he couldn't completely dismiss the suspension, he could delay it long enough that it wouldn't matter anymore. Maybe he'd even retire before he ever served the suspension, that sure would show Goodell and the NFL.

But in the end, Brady called it quits on his appeal and Jimmy Garoppolo is set to start the first four games of the 2016 season. Strictly speaking, the NFLPA released a statement in which it reserved its own rights to petition the Supreme Court in the matter, but as far as Brady is concerned, it's over.

In order to help you understand what this whole process was like, we've compiled a timeline with a lot of the critical minutia that you need to know. And yes, the phrase "critical minutia" is an oxymoron, but it fits for a story this absurd.

Deflategate Timeline


Jan. 19: Hours after the AFC Championship Game, Indianapolis media personality Bob Kravitz tweeted the NFL was investigating the possibility that the Patriots played with deflated footballs. This was a couple of days before Kravitz turned into a crazy person, and started questioning Robert Kraft's integrity.

Jan. 21: ESPN's Chris Mortensen publishes the inaccurate story about 11-of-12 Patriots footballs being two pounds below the league-mandated pounds per square inch threshold. DeflateGate lead all three national newscasts the next day.

Jan. 22: Bill Belichick and Brady hold back-to-back press conferences at Gillette Stadium. Belichick denied any knowledge of the deflated footballs, and deflected all questions to Brady. Brady then stood up at the podium for 30 minutes, and gave us all of the ball innuendos we could ever dream of.

Jan. 23: The NFL releases its first statement about DeflateGate, and announces Ted Wells will be leading the "independent investigation."

Jan. 24: Belichick quotes My Cousin Vinny, and introduces the country to the Ideal Gas Law.

Jan. 26: Kraft touches down in Phoenix for the Super Bowl, and demands an apology from the NFL if the Wells Report finds the Patriots are innocent.

Feb. 1: The Patriots win Super Bowl 49, defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24.

Feb. 20: ESPN reporter Kelly Naqi writes that multiple sources told her a Patriots employee tried to give an official an unapproved kicking ball in the AFC Title Game. Adam Schefter shoots her story down.

May 6: The Wells Report is released, and it concludes -- all together now -- it is "more probable than not Tom Brady was at least generally aware" of the alleged ball deflation scheme. It also publishes the infamous "Deflator" text chain between Patriots employees John Jastremski and Jim McNally.

May 11: Punishment time! The NFL suspends Brady for four games, strips the Patriots of a first- and fourth-round draft pick and fines the organization $1 million. Kraft releases a statement and says the penalty "far exceeds any reasonable expectation."

May 14: The Patriots legal team launches the Wells Report in Context website. The site claims McNally called himself "the deflator" because he was trying to lose wight.

May 14: Brady formally appeals his suspension.

May 19: After months of tough talk, Kraft announces the Patriots won't appeal the DeflateGate penalties.

June 2: Goodell says he will serve as the arbiter in Brady's appeal, which is one of the biggest reasons why we're at this point today. The NFLPA requested a third party arbiter, and didn't get one.

June 23 and 25: Brady's appealing hearing is held in New York City. It lasts for hours.

July 28: Goodell upholds the Brady suspension, and says Brady "destroyed his phone" to hide evidence. Goodell also abandoned Wells' "general awareness" conclusion and instead said Brady "knew of, approved of, consented to and provided inducements and rewards" to support the alleged ball deflation scheme.

July 28: NFL requests Brady's suspension appeal is heard in New York City. The NFLPA wanted it heard in Minnesota, which is where Adrian Peterson's indefinite suspension was overturned, but the NFL wins out.

July 29: Kraft blasts the NFL, saying that he was "wrong to put his faith in the league" at an impromptu press conference at the start of Patriots training camp.

Aug. 4: Mortensen deletes his false PSI tweet nearly seven months later.

Aug. 4: Brady's appeal hearing transcript is released, even though the NFL wanted the documents sealed. It is revealed that Goodell manipulated Brady's testimony in his written decision to uphold the four-game suspension.

Aug. 4: More than 1,400 of Brady's emails are leaked, as well, and we find out he really, really wanted a white pool cover.

Aug. 12: The first settlement hearing between Brady and the NFL is held in front of Judge Berman in New York City. The most notable news to come out of the proceeding is a horrid courtroom sketch of Brady.

Aug. 19: Judge Berman skewers the NFL in the second settlement hearing, which Brady and Goodell didn't attend. Judge Berman chastises the league for not making General Counsel and Wells Report co-editor Jeff Pash available as a witness in Brady's appeal hearing, and also takes issue with Goodell equating ball deflation to steroid use.

Aug. 31: The two sides meet for an abbreviated third hearing, and inform the court a settlement hasn't been reached. Judge Berman says he expects to issue a decision in the next few days.

Sept. 1: Judge Berman issued an order that the decision will come by the end of the week.

Sep. 3: Tom Brady wins his appeal after Judge Berman nullified the quarterback's four-game suspension. The NFL will appeal the decision.

Sep. 10: Brady made a start for the Patriots in Week 1, leading them to a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He led the team to a 12-4 record and first place in the AFC East.


Jan. 24: Brady and the Patriots fell to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship, ending their season. Throughout the regular season and playoffs, nothing of substance was reported about DeflateGate.

March 10: The Patriots and Brady agreed on a two-year contract extension. While DeflateGate wasn't talked about much at this point, it turns out the deal was structured as such that he would only lose $235,294 if he were to serve a suspension in 2016. Had he served the suspension as originally intended, he would have forfeited more than $2.1 million in game checks.

April 25: A United States Appeals court reinstated Brady's four-game suspension. The court ruled that Goodell "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." That is to say, no judgments regarding the actual infraction were made, but they affirmed Goodell's authority in handing down the punishment.

July 13: Brady's appeal for an en banc hearing was denied, keeping his four-game suspension in place. The sole option left for the quarterback is to go through the U.S. Supreme Court.

July 15: Brady finally gives up the fight, announcing on Facebook that he wants to focus on his his return to the field and that he will no longer pursue legal action -- meaning he won't be taking it to the Supreme Court. DeflateGate ends after 544 days, provided the NFLPA doesn't elect to exercise its own rights to continue the fight. As far as Brady is concerned, DeflateGate is over, and that's good enough for us!

September 2016: Brady serves his four-game suspension. The Patriots go 3-1 without him.

Oct. 9, 2016: Brady returns from his suspension in a 33-13 win over the Browns.

Jan. 22, 2017: The Patriots beat the Steelers in the AFC Championship, sending them to the Super Bowl. TWO MORE WEEKS TO TALK ABOUT DEFLATED FOOTBALLS!

Feb. 5, 2017: Will Roger Goodell have to hand Brady the Lombardi trophy? Awkward!