NEW YORK — Could “Deflategate” be over? Tom Brady and the NFL Players Association’s petition for a rehearing has been denied by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
The decision, which was announced in a one-page court document on Wednesday, means that Brady’s four-game suspension remains in place.
Just about all legal avenues have been exhausted by Brady, who still has the option of going to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In April, a three-judge panel ruled in favor of the NFL in the “Deflategate” case, effectively reinstating the New England Patriots quarterback’s original four-game suspension imposed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Judges Denny Chin and Barrington D. Parker ruled in favor of the league, while Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann ruled for Brady.
April’s decision had reversed a federal judge, Richard M. Berman, who had nullified Brady’s four-game suspension in September because of “several significant legal deficiencies” in how Goodell investigated accusations that footballs were below league-mandated minimum pressure levels at the AFC Championship Game in January 2015.
The majority of the three-judge panel in April said it believed 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.”
In May, the NFLPA filed a petition with a federal appeals court asking for a rehearing of the case by a three-judge panel or the whole court.
The NFL imposed the suspension on Brady in May 2015 after independent investigator Ted Wells, who had been hired by the league, found it “more probable than not” that the Patriots quarterback was involved with locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski in a scheme to take air out of the footballs New England used in the game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts, 45-7, and went on to win the Super Bowl that season.
In the original investigation, the NFL had asked to see the phone’s text messages but lacked subpoena power to force Brady to comply. In the report, Wells said that Brady, who answered questions over the course of one day, did not turn over personal information such as texts and emails.
According to the report, no one said Brady tampered with the footballs, although he was implicated in texts involving McNally and Jastremski. Brady has denied any wrongdoing.
In July 2015, when Goodell denied Brady’s appeal of the suspension, the league said that the athlete’s “deliberate destruction of potentially relevant evidence went beyond a mere failure to cooperate in the investigation and supported a finding that he had sought to hide evidence in his own participation in the underlying scheme to alter the footballs.”
Brady had said that it was his practice to destroy his phone and SIM cards whenever he got a replacement phone.
Chief Judge Katzmann, who was the lone judge to dissent in April, said that Goodell “exceeded his authority, to Brady’s detriment, by resting Brady’s discipline on factual findings not made in the Wells Report.”