After the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Tom Brady's request for a rehearing of his Deflategate case, the New England Patriots quarterback decided against using his last legal option available.
Brady took to Facebook to announce he won't take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court:
The NFLPA released a statement on the decision, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network:
Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft also released a statement on the decision:
While I was disappointed with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision not to rehear Tom Brady's case, I am most frustrated that Tom was denied his right to a fair and impartial process. The League's investigation into a football pressure matter was flawed and biased from the start, and has been discredited nearly unanimously by accredited academics and scientists.
The penalty imposed by the NFL was unprecedented, unjust and unreasonable, especially given that no empirical or direct evidence of any kind showed Tom did anything to violate League rules prior to, during or after the 2015 AFC Championship Game. What Tom has had to endure throughout this 18-month ordeal has been, in my opinion, as far removed from due process as you could ever expect in this country.
From day one, I have believed in Tom and given him my unwavering support in his pursuit to rightfully clear his name of any wrongdoing. That support extends throughout our organization and has only grown more steadfast as the preponderance of scientific evidence has exonerated Tom. Unfortunately, this stopped being about air pressure a long time ago.
Ultimately, Kraft said he supported Brady's decision despite his disappointment:
This entire process has indelibly taken a toll on our organization, our fans and most importantly, Tom Brady. His reluctant decision to stop pursuing further action and to put this situation behind him is what he feels is best for the team in preparation for this season and is fully supported by me and our entire organization.
To our devoted fans, your unwavering support for Tom and our organization have only reinforced our longstanding belief that we have the greatest fans in all of sports. We will continue to unequivocally support Tom and know our fans will rally around him and the rest of the team like never before. Our full focus now is on making the upcoming season a memorable one for all of our fans.
Andrew Brandt of ESPN noted the NFLPA retaining rights to a Supreme Court appeal won't impact Brady's suspension.
The suspension will cost Brady $235,000, and he'll be banned from having contact with the team during the suspension, per Rapoport.
Thus, the Deflategate saga appears to be officially over. The Second Circuit essentially decided Brady's fate. Sports Illustrated's Michael McCann wrote in the aftermath of the ruling that Brady could petition for a stay with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg or a "writ of certiorari" with all the Supreme Court justices. McCann added that the chances Brady would've been successful with either petition were slim.
McCann pointed out the decision had more to do with the collective bargaining than it did Brady or the Patriots' guilt in the original incident:
The Patriots can now operate with confirmation that Jimmy Garoppolo will be their starting quarterback for the start of the 2016 season. He has appeared in 11 regular-season games since New England selected him in the second round of the 2014 NFL draft. In those 11 games, he threw for 188 yards and a touchdown.
Garoppolo also played in three of the team's four preseason games last year, going 61-of-80 for 554 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Last August, the 24-year-old discussed how transitioning to the starting job brings changes beyond his performance on the field.
"Yeah, there's a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on that you don't really know about until you're in the spotlight I guess," Garoppolo said, per CBS Boston. "But you can have fun with it, right?"
The Patriots schedule does them few favors through the first four weeks. Below is a breakdown of their opponents' pass defense numbers, including Football Outsiders' pass defense DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average):
|New England Patriots—First Four Opponents|
|Week||Opponent||Pass Yards Allowed||Pass TD Allowed||Opp. QB Rating||Pass Def. DVOA|
|1||Arizona Cardinals||230.4 YPG (8th)||24 (T11th)||80.9 (8th)||-9.4% (4th)|
|2||Miami Dolphins||250.0 (21st)||31 (T25th)||97.4 (24th)||24.7% (29th)|
|3||Houston Texans||210.4 (3rd)||24 (T11th)||82.8 (9th)||-6.5% (7th)|
|4||Buffalo Bills||248.3 (19th)||30 (T22nd)||83.3 (10th)||13.1% (18th)|
|Source: ESPN.com, Football Outsiders|
Of course, the Patriots are the only team in the league that could realistically cope without a quarterback as talented as Brady. When he missed 15 games in 2008, New England still finished with an 11-5 record and only failed to make the playoffs via a tiebreaker.
Assuming everybody is healthy, Garoppolo will have plenty of options in the passing game. The tight end combination of Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett could be dominant, while both Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola are dependable pass-catchers.
Being without Brady isn't an optimal way to start the year, but it shouldn't wreck the Patriots' hopes of reaching the playoffs for the eighth straight season.