Tom Brady's four-game suspension for the DeflateGate scandal has been reinstated by a U.S. Appeals court, according to a report from CNBC.
Brady, 38, received the punishment in May 2015, shortly after a report was published by the NFL that alleged that the Patriots deflated footballs during an AFC Championship victory over the Indianapolis Colts to make them easier to throw and catch. In July, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the suspension after hearing an appeal, but the ban was eventually overturned in September, allowing Brady to play the entire 2015 season.
"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 court wrote in its opinion, released on Monday.
Essentially, the court found that Goodell had the authority to hand down punishment due to the collective bargaining agreement. The court didn't make a ruling on the fairness of the DeflateGate suspension, however.
"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," the NFL said in a statement, via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. "That authority has been recognized by many courts and has been expressly incorporated into every collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and NFLPA for the past 40 years."
The ruling isn't the end of the road for Brady and the NFL, though. The quarterback has a few options on the table now:
Tom Brady's recourse is to seek a stay/injunction and a) ask for a re-hearing before the full 2nd circuit or b) appeal to the Supreme Court.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 25, 2016
The NFLPA also released a statement on Monday after the ruling:
"The NFLPA is disappointed in the decision by the Second Circuit. 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.
"Our Union will carefully review the decision, consider all of our options and continue to fight for players' rights and for the integrity of the game."
Brady hasn't missed a game for the Patriots since the 2008 season, when he suffered a knee injury, and he led the NFL with 36 touchdown passes in 2015. He earned an 11th trip to the Pro Bowl and led the Patriots to the AFC Championship, but lost 20-18 to the Denver Broncos.
In addition to Brady's suspension, the Patriots were also fined $1 million and docked a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Patriots owner Robert Kraft chose not to appeal to punishment, and while he has since asked for the draft pick to be reinstated, the team has been forced to forfeit the No. 29 overall selection.
Brady restructured his contract with the Patriots in March, signing a two-year, $41 million extension with the team. According to Spotrac, Brady stood to forfeit more than $2.1 million from a four-game suspension, but his new contract means he would lose just $235,294 if the punishment stands.
If Brady has to serve his four-game suspension, his first game back would be Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns. Backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo would likely suit up against the Patriots' first four opponents of the 2016 season, which are the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills.
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