Roger Goodell finally wins

Jack Smith, Sports Reporter

Roger Goodell, the most powerful man in professional football, prevailed again Monday in his 15-month battle with Tom Brady, one of the game’s most celebrated quarterbacks. And this time, Brady has virtually no chance of escaping a four-game suspension.

Goodell’s victory came in a ruling by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that overturned a lower-court decision and affirmed that Goodell, the NFL commissioner, had broad discretion to suspend players according to the collective bargaining agreement with the players’ union.

The panel’s decision can be appealed to the full Second Circuit, or even the Supreme Court, but the chance of a victory for Brady is “close to nil,” said Michael LeRoy, who teaches labor law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Assuming nothing changes, Brady could return to regular play as soon as Oct. 9.

The NFL’s decision in the so-called Deflategate case — suspending one of its most popular players for being “generally aware” of a plot to deflate footballs in the 2015 AFC championship game, captivated the nation like few football stories.

Over the years, sports leagues have fought with some of their best players, including cases in which Major League Baseball butted heads with Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez. But never has a showdown between a league and a player centered on whether the player wanted to manipulate the air pressure in a ball.

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