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Rob Gronkowski thinks Tom Brady will play 16 games

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Patriots tight Rob Gronkowski is convinced that Tom Brady's four-game suspension will be scattered to the wind by September.

Gronk told ESPN on Thursday that he was with Brady at the team facility in April when the U.S. Second Court of Appeals reinstated the quarterback's ban for his connection to deflated footballs used in the AFC Championship Game in January 2015.

"I was actually surprised. It was a surprise to everyone," Gronkowski said of the court's decision. "I thought it was totally done and it was crazy to see it happen again. It's kind of getting stupid to the point where it's at now. Why it's still going on now ... I think he's going to play 16 games again. That's the way it's been going on, that's the way it's worked, so hopefully that's true."

Nobody would mistake Gronkowski for a lawyer, but he's correct to point out that Brady has recourse to fight his punishment. The quarterback has until May 23 to decide whether to ask for a rehearing in front of the same three-judge panel or a new hearing -- called "en banc" -- in front of the entire circuit. Brady's counsel includes, among others, top lawyer Ted Olson, who has experience arguing in front of the Supreme Court.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in April called the court's ruling "the end of the matter," but Deflategate feels much like the hard-to-kill cinema monster who keeps springing back to life. This fight likely will drag on for a while.

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