Here’s What Tom Brady’s Legal Options Are After His Suspension Reinstatement
Throughout the entire Deflategate saga, the NFL has contended that Roger Goodell’s unilateral disciplinary authority matters more than whether or not Tom Brady conspired to get footballs deflated. As it turns out, the league may be right.
The 2nd U.S. Court of Appeals reinstated Tom Brady’s four-game suspension Monday in a 2-to-1 decision, on the grounds that Goodell was acting within the constraints of the authority he’s been given. Their ruling overturned a lower court decision that voided the NFL’s suspension.
As it stands today, Brady is slated to miss the first four games of the upcoming season for allegedly deflating footballs in the 2015 AFC Championship. The NFL Players’ Association said in a statement it’s considering “all options” before it moves forward with any additional action.
Though the appeals court’s decision is a resounding affirmation of Goodell’s authority, it’s still not a given Brady will miss time this season. There are still some legal options at his disposal, even if many of them are long shots. Here’s what remains for him to try:
Request a re-hearing:
Brady could ask for the full 2nd Circuit to hear his case, which is known as an en banc session. But the odds of this happening are exceptionally slim. From 2000-2010, only eight cases out of 27,856 completed appeals were reheard en banc in the 2nd Circuit.
Ask for a temporary injunction:
An injunction would hold off Monday’s ruling while Brady continues to fight the NFL legally. This would allow Brady to play for the first four games of the season, but the possibility remains that the decision could be upheld, meaning he would serve his suspension later on in the year when games are more important.
Appeal to the Supreme Court:
Any party to a civil or criminal case has the right to appeal a decision to the Supreme Court once the 2nd Circuit rules on it. But since the Supreme Court hears fewer than 100 cases per year, it’s improbable the highest court in the land will want to take on a case about deflated footballs—unless an appellate court in Minnesota that’s reviewing Vikings running back Adrian Peterson’s suspension rules against the league. As sports attorney Daniel Wallach stated on 98.5 “The Sports Hub” Monday, if two different federal appellate courts view the commissioner’s authority under the collective bargaining agreement differently, the Supreme Court may be inclined to take the case.
Agree to a settlement with the NFL:
Brady’s side may want to explore a settlement with the NFL, given the 2nd Circuit’s decision. But that’s precisely why the league probably wouldn’t listen.
And besides, we’ve already gone this far. You don’t actually think cooler heads will ever prevail, do you?