Nearly six months after Judge Richard Berman overturned Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension, Brady and the NFL return to court for the next round in the #Deflategate drama.
On Thursday, the lawyers will descend on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the federal appellate courts that encompasses New York, Connecticut, and Vermont. Before three judges, the NFL’s lawyer will go first, making the case for reversing Judge Berman’s decision. Then, Brady’s lawyer will respond. The NFL will have the last word, since it’s the party trying to change the status quo.
The judges, a panel that based on political affiliations supports Brady’s interests, won’t issue a ruling from the bench. Their questions could create hints as to where they are leaning; quite often, the party facing the toughest test faces the most pointed inquiries.
Eventually, a written decision will be issued. The losing party will have the ability to file a request for rehearing before the full Second Circuit, and its 20-plus judges. After that process is resolved, with or without a rehearing being granted, the losing party will have the power to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the Supreme Court, the first question will be whether the highest court in the country will take the case. The vast majority of petitions filed with the Supreme Court fail. Then, if the appeal is accepted, it will be fully briefed and presented before the Justices and ruled upon.
The process, which already has consumed nearly a year, could consume two or more on top of that before it’s done. The only relatively sure thing is that, given Brady’s new contract, the case will be resolved before he retires.