The reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots filed a federal court brief Wednesday asking the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals to hear Tom Brady’s ‘Deflategate’ suspension appeal.
Brady faces a four-game ban at the start of the 2016 NFL campaign for the quarterback’s supposed role in the under-inflating of footballs for the 2015 American Conference championship game.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell imposed the four-game ban on Brady last year following a league investigation that declared Brady was generally aware of the lower than regulation air pressure in balls used by the Patriots in the playoff contest.
But Brady took the league to court and the ban was overturned by US District Court Judge Richard Berman, allowing Brady to start on time in a season that ended with him claiming a record-tying fourth career Super Bowl crown.
The NFL made its own court appeal and last month, a circuit court panel of judges ruled 2-1 that Goodell was within his rights under the NFL collective bargaining agreement with players to suspend Brady for four games.
On Monday, Brady filed an appeal to overturn his four-game ban, asking for a hearing by the full appeals court, not just the three-judge panel.
Seven of 13 judges must agree that the hearing is necessary and that’s the cause the Patriots supported with their brief, team lawyer Daniel Goldberg saying the NFL probe into the matter was a “sham” and its findings were flawed.
“The Patriots stand to lose their All-Pro quarterback for 25 percent of the upcoming regular season based on a severely flawed process,” Goldberg wrote.
“But the impact of the majority opinion is not limited to professional football. It threatens to undermine vital principles governing arbitration of collective bargaining agreements throughout the national economy.
“From the outset of this matter the league’s conduct reflects less a search for the truth than pursuit of a pre-determined result and defence of a report which, despite no direct evidence of tampering or Mr. Brady’s involvement, was relied on to impose penalties with no precedent or correlation to the alleged offence.”
If the court refuses to hear the case, Brady’s only other option would be to appeal the case to the US Supreme Court, which could postpone a final verdict for years.
If the suspension stands, Brady will miss the Patriots’ opening games against the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills.
Brady, among America’s most high-profile sports figures, was plunged into controversy after New England routed Indianapolis in last year’s playoffs.
The Patriots were accused of deliberately manipulating the air pressure of balls used in the first half in order to make them easier to grip, grab and throw.
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