In less than a month, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will hear the Tom Brady case, which was vacated by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman back on Sept. 3. The NFL initially levied a four-game suspension on Brady after Ted Wells, an independent investigator hired by the NFL, asserted Brady's connection to the use of deflated footballs in last year's AFC Championship Game.
The NFL did not seek a stay back in September, which allowed Brady to play the entire season and reach yet another conference title game. However, the matter is not over.
Citing a need to uphold the power granted to him by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was adamant about the league's appeal of the ruling during his annual state of the union address Friday.
"This is not an individual player issue, this is about the rights that we negotiated in our collective bargaining agreement," Goodell said. "We think they're very clear. We think they're important to the league going forward and we disagree with the district judge decision. We are appealing that -- which is part of the legal process -- I am not focused on that right now.
"I am not gonna speculate what we are gonna do depending on the outcome. We'll let the outcome be dictated by the appeals court. When it happens, we'll deal with it then."
While his answer was a tad nebulous, it certainly left the door open for a potential suspension should the case be overturned.
In his decision, Berman wrote: "The court finds that no player alleged or found to have had a general awareness of the inappropriate ball deflation activities of others or who allegedly schemed with others to let air out of footballs in a championship game and also had not cooperated in an ensuing investigation reasonably could be on notice that their discipline would (or should) be the same as applied to a player who violated the NFL policy on anabolic steroids and related substances."
Brady never wanted to -- and has not had to -- accept any of the findings of the Wells Report, which has been his major sticking point. The first hearing ended up being a major victory for one of the NFL's most recognizable players. We will see what happens in Round 2.