"I realized I couldn't win," Brady said during an interview with Oprah Winfrey (h/t the Boston Globe's Nicole Yang). "I just said, 'You know what? I'm going to use this as an opportunity to have the month of September off for the first time in 21 years. I'm going to take advantage of this.'"
Brady accepted his four-game suspension in July 2016 and missed the first four games of that season. To put the drawn-out nature of his fight with the NFL in perspective, the league first announced the suspension in May 2015.
The move came after investigator Ted Wells determined it was "more probable than not" Patriots employees intentionally deflated footballs below the accepted level in the team's 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the 2015 AFC Championship Game.
U.S. District Judge Richard Berman overturned Brady's four-game suspension in 2015, which allowed him to play the entire season. The suspension was reinstated on appeal in April 2016 and subsequently went into effect.
Brady's punishment ultimately had little effect on him and the Patriots as a whole. He set a league record in 2016 by throwing 28 touchdowns against just two interceptions, and New England captured its fifth Super Bowl title, wiping out a 25-point third-quarter deficit against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.