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Brady loses bid for new hearing in 'Deflategate' case

NEW YORK - New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady on Wednesday lost a bid for a new hearing before a U.S. appeals court on his "Deflategate" four-game suspension, a decision that could mark the end of his legal fight.

Tom Brady. USA Today Sports
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady reacts before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2016 AFC Divisional round playoff game at Gillette Stadium. (Greg M. Cooper / USA TODAY Sports)

NEW YORK - New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady on Wednesday lost a bid for a new hearing before a U.S. appeals court on his "Deflategate" four-game suspension, a decision that could mark the end of his legal fight.

In a brief order, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said it would not reconsider its April 25 decision to reinstate Brady's suspension by the National Football League over deflated footballs.

Brady's request had been considered a long shot because the 2nd Circuit rarely grants such motions.

He can still appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which accepts only a small fraction of cases it reviews.

If it stands, Monday's decision would end an 18-month saga that had become a major distraction for the NFL, which also faces criticism over player safety and the link between football and concussions.

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The suspension would force Brady to miss the first four games of the upcoming 2016 NFL season, which begins in September.

Representatives for the NFL, Brady and the NFL players union did not respond to requests for comment.

Brady, 38, was suspended after the NFL discovered underinflated footballs were used in the Patriots' 45-7 rout of the Indianapolis Colts in the January 2015 AFC championship game.

The win propelled the Patriots to Super Bowl XLIX, where they defeated the Seattle Seahawks, giving Brady his fourth title.

Brady, twice the NFL's most valuable player, was suspended after a lawyer hired by the league to investigate the matter said the quarterback was "generally aware" that two Patriots employees had conspired to deflate the footballs, which could make them easier to grip.

The quarterback has denied any involvement.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the suspension in July 2015. The players' union sued on Brady's behalf, claiming Goodell had overstepped his authority.

A federal judge agreed and threw out Brady's suspension, allowing him to play the entire 2015 season.

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But in a 2-1 decision on April 25, an appeals court panel restored Brady's punishment, saying Goodell had broad discretion under the league's collective bargaining agreement with its players to resolve what it called an "intramural controversy."

Wednesday's order rejected Brady's motion to have the panel or the entire appeals court reconsider the case.

Lawyers for Brady and the union had said letting the 2nd Circuit decision stand would undermine collectively bargained labor agreements.

The NFL countered that its agreement with the union gave Goodell expansive power to discipline players.

Two former U.S. solicitors general under President George W. Bush were on opposite sides of the case, with Theodore Olson representing the union and Paul Clement representing the NFL.

Brady drew support for his appeal from many parties, including the Patriots, mediator Kenneth Feinberg, and even a group of physics and engineering professors who said deflated footballs were a normal part of the game.

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