It feels like déjà vu all over again. Tom Brady is suspended four games for his role in Deflategate. There will be books written about Deflategate, but here are some bullet points:
Jan. 18, 2015: The Patriots beat the Colts, 45-7, in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. The Colts ask the officials to check the air pressure of the Patriots' footballs. A halftime inspection reveals one of the Patriots' 12 balls to be 2 pounds per square inch below the minimum of 12.5 psi.
Feb. 1, 2015: New England wins Super Bowl XLIX. No Patriot is suspended.
May 6, 2015: The Wells Report is released, and it claims Brady was "at least generally aware" of the alleged rules violations.
May 11, 2015: The NFL suspends Brady for the first four games of the regular season with no pay.
May 13, 2015: The NFLPA appeals Brady's suspension and asks commissioner Roger Goodell to recuse himself from presiding over the appeal.
June 23, 2015: Brady's appeal takes place in New York and lasts 10 hours.
July 28, 2015: Goodell upholds Brady's suspension. The next day, the NFLPA files an an injunction in Minnesota. The lawsuit is then transferred to the Southern District of New York.
August 12, 2015: The NFLPA and Brady meet in court to discuss a possible settlement.
Sept. 3, 2015: Judge Richard M. Berman throws out Brady's suspension, citing among other issues that the league had "several significant legal deficiencies."
Oct. 26, 2015: The NFL appeals Berman's decision in a 61-page brief.
April 25, 2016: The U.S. Court of Appeals, in a 2-to-1 vote, overrules Berman's ruling in the Southern District of New York and reinstates Brady's suspension.
OK, so where do we go from here?
If No Action Is Taken, Brady Is Suspended Four Games And The World Moves On From There.
In terms of team penalties, the NFL fined the Patriots $1 million and stripped them of a first-round draft pick this year and a fourth-rounder next year. Those picks are gone. Only the Brady suspension was appealed.
Here's the official statement from the U.S. Court of Appeals on Monday:
— ABC News (@ABC) April 25, 2016
If Brady and the NFLPA do not appeal, he will miss New England's first four games:
Tom Brady will miss the first 4 games of the 2016 season. He's a combined 50-14 in his career against those teams. pic.twitter.com/cvtM6wrMQ0
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 25, 2016
Let's be honest. Starting on the road against the Cardinals is going to be difficult, but missing home games against the Dolphins, Texans and Bills is not that bad. It could be much worse. Backup Jimmy Garoppolo has only 31 pass attempts in two seasons, but he has already gone through this song and dance before, preparing for last year's supposed start without Brady.
Brady is not 100 percent confident he will win an appeal
Soon after the U.S. Appeals Court made its announcement Monday, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport pointed out Brady was ready for this.
Tom Brady re-did his contract recently with this in mind. He'll now lose just over $200K instead of $2M. But it's the games he cares about
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 25, 2016
In March, Brady signed a two-year contract extension with the Patriots through 2019. But the deal did not just keep Brady in New England for extra seasons. As part of the contract, Brady was given a $28 million signing bonus, and his base salaries for 2016 and 2017, previously $9 million and $10 million, was changed to $1 million. His 2018 and 2019 base salaries are now $14 million each year.
Final terms on Tom Brady's 2-yr ext. $28M sign bonus, $41M in new money. Base salaries: $1M, $1M, $14M, $14M. Cap #: 14M, 14M, 22M, 22M...
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 10, 2016
If Brady does indeed miss the first four games of 2016, he will lose $235,294.12 in salary, as opposed to the $2,117,647.06 he would have lost on his old contract.
But Brady Probably Is Not Going Down Without A Fight
In re-instating the suspension, the Appeals Court ruled that the NFL "did not deprive Brady of fundamental fairness." But it did not rule whether the Goodell based his decision to suspend on Brady on bogus information.
The NFLPA issued the following statement Monday afternoon:
The NFLPA is disappointed in the decision by the Second Circuit. We fought Roger Goodell's suspension of Tom Brady because we know he did not serve as a fair arbitrator and that players' rights were violated under our collective bargaining agreement.
Our Union will carefully review the decision, consider all of our options and continue to fight for players' rights and for the integrity of the game.
That does not exactly scream, "We lost." But the NFLPA will need to research its chances of winning its next case if it chooses to appeal.
Maybe this is just coincidence (or great public relations): The NFLPA published its "Top 50 Player Sales List" Monday morning before the news, and Brady was No. 1.
— NFLPA (@NFLPA) April 25, 2016
Where Would The Next Court Case Be?
If Brady and the NFLPA do appeal, they can ask for a re-hearing before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (in New York City) or he can appeal the case to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Tom Brady's recourse is to seek a stay/injunction and a) ask for a re-hearing before the full 2nd circuit or b) appeal to the Supreme Court.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 25, 2016
The worst part of this situation for Brady is that the higher the court, the longer it takes to present a case. According to the Supreme Court's website, 7,000 to 8,000 petitions are presented to the Court each year, and only about 80 are granted and heard. Brady's case is obviously high profile, and his team, the league, businesses and millions of fans around the world are affected, but even if the Court does take Brady's case, the odds of clearing his name before New England's September opener are unclear. Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post writes, "Brady is almost certain to miss the Patriots' first four games."
Will This Help Donald Trump?
Please don't take this as fishing for clicks. It's actually true.
The Supreme Court is currently operating with eight justices, a rare occurrence resulting from the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. Although Trump says he would appoint a new justice if he were in Barack Obama's shoes, Trump has also advised Republicans in the Senate to do their best to delay such a judicial appointment until the next president takes over. Of course, Trump believes he will be that next executive.
Imagine a Tom Brady Supreme Court writ of certiorari being presented while Trump runs for office. Sean Gentille of the Sporting News proposes a mock scenario in which the Supreme Court is split at 4-4 over the Brady case. Trump can then come in with a pro-Patriots judge and win Brady's case. Of course, this would come after the start of the season, so Trump may be of no use. And this argument may be ridiculous.
Or is it?
On Monday, Trump actually spoke about Deflategate, saying, "Leave Tom Brady alone."
What Does This Mean For The Rest Of The League?
Well, for the NFLPA and players who get into future trouble with the league, this is bad. Goodell's power to suspend Brady or any other player has been upheld in court.
Teams that will benefit from Brady's absence have to be semi-rejoicing. For the Cardinals and Texans to dodge Brady (both in prime time) and potentially turn those games into wins, that could be the difference between earning a playoff spot and not. The Dolphins and Bills, AFC East division rivals, catch a huge break, missing Brady on their annual trips to Foxborough. The Jets, who finished two games behind New England last season, have big eyes looking at an division title.
Meanwhile, the poor Browns get nothing out of this. Brady's first game back will be in Cleveland on Oct. 9. If Brady does indeed miss the first four games, he will probably use the Browns' matchup to catch up on missed stats. So, we're talking maybe eight touchdown passes that game?
-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.