New York - Tom
Brady said on Friday he's dropping his legal battle against the NFL,
meaning the superstar New England Patriots quarterback will open the
2016 season serving a four-game suspension.
"It has been a challenging 18 months and I have made the difficult
decision to no longer proceed with the legal process," Brady wrote on
his Facebook page.
"I'm going to work hard to be the best player I can
be for the New England Patriots and I look forward to having the
opportunity to return to the field this fall."
Brady's decision came after the second US Circuit Court of Appeals in
New York issued a terse ruling on Wednesday denying a petition for the
full appeals court panel of judges to hear his case.
One of the highest-profile athletes in the United States, Brady has
been battling the NFL ever since the league accused him of involvement
in a plot to cheat by tampering with the air pressure of balls used in
the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts in 2015.
The NFL-commissioned investigation into the affair was conducted by
attorney Ted Wells, who concluded it was "more probable than not" that
Brady was "generally aware" of Patriots attendants deflating footballs
prior to the game.
A court ruled in his favor last year, quashing a four-game suspension
meted out by Goodell, leaving Brady free to play all of the 2015
However, on April 25, the three-judge appeals court panel ruled 2-1 that Goodell was within his powers when he suspended Brady.
Brady's last avenue of appeal is the US Supreme Court, and while he
indicated he didn't plan to go there, the NFL Players Association said
it wouldn't rule out a petition to the highest court in the land.
In the meantime, however, the union said it would take no legal action seeking to forestall the suspension.
"After careful consideration and discussion with Tom Brady, the NFLPA
will not be seeking a stay of the four-game suspension with the 2nd
Circuit," the NFLPA said in a statement Friday. "This decision was made
in the interest of certainty and planning for Tom prior to the New
England Patriots season. We will continue to review all of our options
and we reserve our rights to petition for cert to the Supreme Court."
With such a petition the union would seek court backing for its
contention that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acted improperly in
handling the case.
But it wouldn't alter the ban that will see Brady miss the first four
games of New England's 2016 campaign against the Arizona Cardinals,
Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills.