NEW YORK (AP) — Tom Brady will appeal his four-game suspension by the NFL, seeking a second hearing before a circuit court. The decision by the New England Patriots quarterback was confirmed Monday by the NFL Players Association. If the appeal is denied by the full panel, Brady could try to take his case to the Supreme Court.
The court ruled 2-1 on April 25 that Commissioner Roger Goodell was within his rights to suspend Brady for four games for his role in using improperly inflated footballs in the 2015 AFC championship game.
The full court in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rarely reconsiders cases. But pushing this matter forward could be an attempt to pressure Goodell into a settlement so another NFL season is not dominated by talk of deflated footballs.
Brady has added lawyer Ted Olson to his legal team. Olson and union chief DeMaurice Smith appeared on ABC's "Good Morning America," saying they plan to ask for a new hearing before the entire 13-judge circuit.
Olson has experience arguing in front of the Supreme Court, including the Bush v. Gore case that settled the 2000 presidential election. Olson also was involved in the case that overturned California's ban on same-sex marriages.
The union on April 29 sought an extension to file a petition for a new hearing. It cited the "serious consequences for each of the NFLPA's over 1,600 members" and labor law issues that could have "far-reaching consequences for all employees subject to collective bargaining agreements."
The three-judge panel in Manhattan ruled that Goodell did not deprive Brady of "fundamental fairness" with his procedural rulings. In a majority opinion written by Judge Barrington Parker, the court said the contract between players and the NFL gave the commissioner "especially broad" authority.
In dissent, Chief Judge Robert Katzmann said Goodell failed to even consider a "highly relevant" alternative penalty.
Last September, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman lifted the four-game suspension, saying Brady was treated unfairly by Goodell.
The judge cited "several significant legal deficiencies" on the league's part, including no advance notice of potential penalties, a refusal to produce a key witness and the apparent first discipline of a player based on a finding of "general awareness" of someone else's wrongdoing.
The Patriots open the season Sept. 11 at Arizona.