The saga of Tom Brady and Deflategate has been drawn out way longer than neccesary, but will likely go on much longer now that Roger Goodell has upheld his suspension.
Roger Goodell upholds Tom Brady's four game suspension.— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) July 28, 2015
NFL 'Mr. Brady's direction that his cellphone and its relevant evidence be destroyed on or about March 6 is very troubling.'— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) July 28, 2015
Following a playoff game, the league put together an investigation led by Ted Wells, which concluded that Brady was guilty of having the footballs used doctored. This conclusion was based on very circumstantial evidence, but there was enough circumstantial evidence combined with a lack of cooperation from the subject of the investigation, Tom Brady and the team that the league felt comfortable punishing them.
When the punishment was handed down, there were many who felt it was too harsh, and many who felt it was too lenient. Patriots owner Robert Kraft accepted the punishment without a fight, after issuing a lengthy response about why he felt the team and Brady should not have been punished. Quarterback Tom Brady, however, did not go quietly. Scheduled to miss the first 4 games of the season due to the punishment, Brady and the NFLPA elected to appeal the decision. The arbitrator is commissioner Roger Goodell, an incredibly controversial issue with the appeals system. Goodell heard the appeal several weeks ago, but has taken his time coming to a verdict. Some hypothesize that this was due to the 2 sides trying to negotiate an agreement that makes both sides happy.
Now the verdict is in. Commissioner Goodell has upheld the 4 game suspension. Brady's next option, should he choose to take it, is to take the case to the U.S. Courts. According to prominent sports lawyer Alan Milstein (a distant cousin of mine), he definitely has a case:
"If they get to federal court, the whole procedure, the question is whether it was arbitrary and capricious," said Alan Milstein, the lawyer who represented Maurice Clarett in his fight against the NFL. "It seems fairly clear it was.
"The commissioner, I thought, really made a poor choice in taking part – basically trying to become part of this arbitration. The best argument Brady has is that due process was lacking and the hearing was unfair. The best evidence is that the commissioner was part of this thing."
If this was filed in court, Brady would have the option to play week 1 against Pittsburgh. However it would also introduce a very uncertain timetable for his suspension, based on the court case. Could the result be a suspended Brady late in the season? It would seem that would be a possibility. Perhaps the Patriots and Brady would prefer the certainty of knowing when the suspension will start and end, and will not go to federal court. The next step is still up in the air.
If he chose to contest the suspension in Federal Court, his saga would continue to drag on despite even non-Patriots fans wanting it to just end already. For what it is worth, Brady has already been judged guilty in the court of public opinion, so even if he wins in a U.S. Court, it will not change the verdict of the masses that he is a cheater.
The NFL's full notice about the penalty is here.