July 13, 2016 - Aaron Wilson
Tom Brady's appeal of Deflategate suspension rejected
In the latest legal twist in the Deflategate saga, New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady suffered a major setback that will probably sideline him for the first four games of the regular season.
The former Super Bowl and league Most Valuable Player's appeal of a four-game suspension was rejected by a federal court Wednesday morning whey they declined to grant him a rehearing.
Barring an unlikely decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal, which hasn't been ruled out as a course of action by Brady's team of lawyers, the veteran quarterback would be unavailable for the Patriots' Sept. 22 home game at Gillette Stadium against the Texans.
Instead of squaring off against Brady, one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history as a three-time Super Bowl MVP, a two-time league MVP and an 11-time Pro Bowl selection, the defending AFC South champions would face Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo during a nationally televised Thursday night game.
Garoppolo, 24, is entering his third NFL season and is a 6-2, 225-pound former second-round draft pick from Eastern Illinois. He's a mobile quarterback who's played in 11 career games, completing 20 of 31 passes for 188 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions for a 91.9 passer rating.
Garoppolo is a former Walter Payton Award winner given to the top offensive player at the Football Championship Subdivision level. He broke Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo's school records for career passing touchdowns, yards and single-season passing touchdowns.Brady, 38, completed 22 of 30 passes for 226 yards, two scores and no interceptions during a 27-6 win over the Texans in December at NRG Stadium. During his storied career, Brady has passed for 58,082 yards, 428 touchdowns and 150 interceptions. He passed for 4,770 yards, 36 touchdowns and seven interceptions with a 102.2 passer rating last season.
The second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan flatly rejected the appeal on behalf of Brady by the NFL Players Association with one sentence.
That upheld NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's decision to suspend Brady for his alleged role in the Patriots' actions to deflate the air pressure in footballs to the quarterback's preference for a playoff win over the Indianapolis Colts in 2015.
Under the NFL collective bargaining agreement, Goodell has been granted wide discretionary powers to suspend players.
Brady and the Patriots, who admitted wrongdoing in the Spygate case where they illegally filmed opponents' signals in a violation of NFL rules, have been widely branded as cheaters.
Following a lengthy investigation, NFL special investigator Ted Wells found that the Patriots intentionally used underinflated footballs and that Brady was generally aware of the practice.
Beyond Brady's four-game suspension, the Patriots were fined $1 million and forfeited their first-round draft pick this year.
Brady's appeal was rejected by Goodell before a federal court judge briefly overturned the suspension with the league subsequently appealing and a three-judge panel reinstating the punishment. Now, the suspension has been upheld again and Brady's legal options are dwindling.
Goodell appears unlikely to budge on his stance that Brady and the Patriots have broken the rules and that he must protect the integrity of the game.
The Patriots open the season against the Arizona Cardinals, followed by games against the Miami Dolphins, Texans and Buffalo Bills.
Unless Brady and his lawyers can complete the legal equivalent of a Hail Mary pass and convince the Supreme Court to take up the case, he'll be suspended without pay for those games and the Patriots will find out soon just how ready Garoppolo is to stand in for one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game.