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Tom Brady's suspension reinstated by 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals

The NFL always seems to make headlines somehow, and they're back at it again with the help of a major U.S. court.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers are not scheduled to play the New England Patriots in the 2016 season, but a decision affecting Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is noteworthy nonetheless for fans of all NFL teams.

This decision relates to the continued saga over deflated footballs that followed the NFL's 2014 season and ended up with commissioner Roger Goodell issuing Brady a four-game suspension. Following Brady's initial appeal - which was heard by Goodell - he appealed to a federal district court, which struck down the suspension.

Of course, the league appealed that decision up to the Second U.S. District Court of Appeals, who handed down a ruling today that reverses the lower court's judgment and reinstates the suspension by a 2-1 vote of the three-judge panel.

Here is the excerpt from the ruling (which was posted in its entirety by ESPN) that describes the decision itself and the general reasoning:

We hold that the Commissioner 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.  Accordingly, we REVERSE the judgment of the district court and REMAND with instructions to confirm the award.

What is most interesting about this ruling is the court's clear explanation that the ruling had nothing to do with whether or not Brady actually deflated the footballs. This excerpt clearly outlines what the court deems to be its role in this proceeding:

Our role is not to determine for ourselves whether Brady participated in a scheme to deflate footballs or whether the suspension imposed by the Commissioner should have been for three games or five games or none at all.  Nor is it our role to second‐guess the arbitrator's procedural rulings.  Our obligation is limited to determining whether the arbitration proceedings and award met the minimum legal standards established by the Labor Management Relations Act.

The court later went on to describe that the authority granted to Goodell derives from the Collective Bargaining Agreement - to which the NFLPA willingly agreed - and that because of this arrangement, he was within his legal bounds in applying the discipline that he did. Ultimately, that puts the onus on the NFLPA for agreeing to the arrangement in the first place.

It is almost certain that Brady and the NFLPA will appeal this decision up to another higher court, and the process could ultimately end up in the Supreme Court. That process would likely take a long time, however, and resolution of that process could last until after Brady's career is over.

As Green Bay Packers fans, let's just be glad that (1) our quarterback prefers his footballs over-inflated rather than under-inflated and (2) that there have never been any allegations of him or anyone else in the organization tampering with the footballs after the referees accepted them.