Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his role in using underinflated footballs during the AFC championship game last season has been upheld by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The league announced the decision Tuesday.
The New England Patriots’ star quarterback was suspended by NFL executive Troy Vincent in May following a league-sanctioned investigation by Ted Wells. The Patriots were fined $1 million and docked a pair of draft picks. The team didn’t appeal its penalty, but Brady and his lawyers made their case during a 10-hour appeal hearing on June 23.
The NFL Players Association has previously said it would challenge the decision in court if Brady’s suspension wasn’t erased.
Brady and the Patriots have denied knowingly using deflated footballs in the AFC title game win over Indianapolis. The Patriots went on to beat Seattle in the Super Bowl and Brady was the MVP.
The NFL announced in late January that Wells would head an investigation into New England’s use of underinflated balls in a 45-7 win over the Colts on Jan. 18. More than three months later, the 243-page Wells report was issued, saying it was “more probable than not” that Brady was “at least generally aware” that footballs he used were improperly deflated by team personnel.
Five days after that, on May 11, the NFL suspended Brady four games, fined the Patriots and stripped the two draft picks. Patriots owner Robert Kraft accepted the team penalties.
But Brady appealed and his hearing was held before Goodell six weeks later. The union had asked Goodell to recuse himself from hearing the appeal because he could not be impartial and might be called as a witness. But Goodell said it was his responsibility to oversee the hearing to protect the integrity of the league.
Scientific arguments were a major part of Brady’s defense. Brady’s lawyers tried to shoot down the findings of an independent firm hired to provide scientific analysis of the air pressure inside the footballs used by the Patriots and Colts.
Brady, who turns 38 on Aug. 3, took nearly every snap last season. But he’ll miss the first four games this season unless the case goes to court. Jimmy Garoppolo, a second-round pick in 2014, would replace Brady, the two-time NFL MVP and three-time Super Bowl MVP.
New England hosts Pittsburgh on Sept. 10 to open the regular season. It then goes to Buffalo, hosts Jacksonville, has a bye, and is at Dallas in the last game of Brady’s suspension.