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Tom Brady's DeflateGate appeal is rejected, suspension stands

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Brady's legal Hail Mary has failed.

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady's legal Hail Mary has fallen incomplete. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided Wednesday not to rehear his case, meaning the New England Patriots quarterback is still slated to miss the first four games of the upcoming season. The 2nd Circuit reinstated Brady's DeflateGate suspension in April by a 2-1 vote, overturning a federal judge's decision to vacate his ban.

On Wednesday, the NFL Player's Association, which filed the appeal on Brady's behalf, called the league's disciplinary protocol a "broken system" and expressed disappointment in the court's decision.

"The NFL Players Association is a labor Union that protects the rights of all of its members and pursues any violations of those rights by any means necessary," a statement read. "We are disappointed with the decision denying a rehearing, as there were clear violations of our collective bargaining agreement by the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell.

"Despite today's result, the track record of this League office when it comes to matters of player discipline is bad for our business and bad for our game. We have a broken system that must be fixed.

"We will review all of our options carefully on behalf of Tom Brady and all NFL players."

The chances were low that Brady's request for a rehearing in front of all 14 justices in the 2nd Circuit would be accepted. From 2000-2010, only eight cases out of a total of 27,856 completed appeals were reheard en banc. Despite those long odds, his lawyers appeared confident that the 2nd Circuit would give his case another look. Attorney Ted Olson, a former U.S. Solicitor General who joined Brady's team in April, told Good Morning America last month he thinks the facts are overwhelmingly in his client’s favor.

"The facts are so apparent and so drastic that the court should hear it," Olson said.

Even the Patriots weren't able to sway the justices' minds. On May 25, the team filed an amicus brief on Brady's behalf, saying the "league's conduct reflects less a search for the truth than pursuit of a pre-determined result." In the decision to restore Brady's four-game suspensionJudge Barrington D. Parker said he doesn’t think commissioner Roger Goodell overstepped his authority when he suspended Brady for allegedly deflating footballs in the 2015 AFC Championship.

Believe it or not, Brady hasn't exhausted all of his legal options yet. The next step would be to petition the Supreme Court and ask the 2nd Circuit to grant him a stay while that process plays out. Under this scenario, Brady would be allowed to play in 2016.

With the 2nd Circuit declining, Brady could also ask the Supreme Court to stay his suspension. The Supreme Court justice assigned to the 2nd Circuit is Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In order for Brady to persuade the Supreme Court to hear a case about deflated footballs, he'll have to convince the highest court in the land that his quarrel with the NFL has far-reaching implications for labor law across the country. In their appeal filing with the 2nd Circuit, Brady's attorneys said Goodell's decision "will fuel unpredictability in labor arbitrations everywhere and make labor arbitration increasingly capricious and undesirable for employers and employees alike."

So, despite the 2nd Circuit choosing not to rehear Brady's appeal, the DeflateGate saga isn't dead just yet.


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