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Tom Brady's Suspension Ordered To Be Reinstated By Second Circuit

BOSTON (CBS) -- The four-game suspension to Tom Brady has been reinstated by the three-judge panel of the Second Circuit.

Reuters was first to report the news.

Brady was initially issued a four-game suspension by the NFL for his alleged role in a ball-deflation scheme prior to the AFC Championship Game in January 2014. He appealed the suspension, first to Roger Goodell, and later to a federal court in New York, where it was vacated.

However, the NFL appealed Judge Richard Berman's decision to the Second Circuit in New York, where a three-judge panel of Robert Katzmann, Denny Chin and Barrington Parker Jr. That trio has elected to reinstate the suspension.

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"We hold that the Commissioner properly exercised his broad discretion under the collective bargaining agreement and that his procedural rulings were properly grounded in that agreement and did not deprive Brady of fundamental fairness," the ruling read. "Accordingly, we REVERSE the judgment of the district court and REMAND with instructions to confirm the award."

Parker wrote: "Given this substantial deference, we conclude that this case is not an exceptional one that warrants vacatur. Our review of the record yields the firm conclusion that the Commissioner properly exercised his broad discretion to resolve an intramural controversy between the League and a player."

Dan Werly of the White Bronco laid out Brady's options going forward, indicating the suspension is likely to stick.

READ: The Full Ruling

The judges relied on the findings of MLB v. Garvey to make their decision, which was made with the idea of allowing the CBA to govern arbitration disputes.

"Collective bargaining agreements are not imposed by legislatures or government agencies," the ruling stated. "Rather, they are negotiated and refined over time by the parties themselves so as to best reflect their priorities, expectations, and experience. ... Our review of an arbitration award under the LMRA is, accordingly, 'very limited.' We are therefore not authorized to review the arbitrator's decision on the merits despite allegations that the decision rests on factual errors or misinterprets the parties' agreement, but inquire only as to whether the arbitrator acted within the scope of his authority as defined by the collective bargaining agreement."

Katzmann dissented with the ruling.

"When the Commissioner, acting in his capacity as an arbitrator, changes the factual basis for the disciplinary action after the appeal hearing concludes, he undermines the fair notice for which the Association bargained, deprives the player of an opportunity to confront the case against him, and, it follows, exceeds his limited authority under the CBA to decide 'appeals' of disciplinary decisions," Katzmann wrote.

But Parker and Chin explained their reasoning: "Contrary to our dissenting colleague, we do not consider whether the punishment imposed was the most appropriate, or whether we are persuaded by the arbitrator's reasoning," the ruling stated. "In short, it is not our task to decide how we would have conducted the arbitration proceedings, or how we would have resolved the dispute."

Brady suspension
The first 4 games of the 2016 season. (WBZ-TV graphic)

If the suspension does indeed hold, Brady will miss the first four games of the Patriots' season. That includes a season-opening game in Arizona on Sunday Night Football, and home games against the Dolphins, Texans and Bills.

As noted by ESPN's Darren Rovell, Brady's restructured contract means that if he does miss those four games, the financial loss will not be much for Brady.

The NFL issued a statement shortly after the ruling was announced: "We are pleased the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled today that the Commissioner properly exercised his authority under the collective bargaining agreement to act in cases involving the integrity of the game.  That authority has been recognized by many courts and has been expressly incorporated into every collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and NFLPA for the past 40 years."

The NFLPA also issued a statement: "The NFLPA is disappointed in the decision by the Second Circuit. We fought Roger Goodell's suspension of Tom Brady because we know he did not serve as a fair arbitrator and that players' rights were violated under our collective bargaining agreement.  Our Union will carefully review the decision, consider all of our options and continue to fight for players' rights and for the integrity of the game."

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