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Sources: Tom Brady's "Deflategate" appeal may go to court

The union representing NFL players may go to federal court over New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's suspension over last year's scandal involving deflated footballs, union sources told CBS News.

The league suspended Brady for the first four games of the 2015 season for his role in the scandal over playing with deflated balls in last season's AFC Championship game, which became known as "Deflategate."

Brady and the union, the NFL Players Association, are appealing the suspension to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Union sources told CBS News that if the league doesn't cut the suspension to zero games it will "very likely" file a lawsuit in federal court.

If the league decides to fine Brady instead of suspending him, the sources said Brady may choose to pay it and move on.

The league based its decision to suspend Brady and fine the Patriots $1 million on the findings of investigator Ted Wells. He said Brady "was at least generally aware" of plans to inflate balls below the league's minumum pressure of 12.5 pounds per square inch, which may have made them easier to grip.

The union argues that Wells' finding of Brady's involvement was "specious" and that Brady was punished under a policy that doesn't apply to players, the union sources said.

Citing decisions in favor of Dallas Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy and former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice in domestic violence cases, the union sources said Goodell has been "wrong in the process and should make an independent arbitrator standard in all cases - like the other leagues."

On Friday, an arbitrator reduced Hardy's suspension from 10 games to four for the upcoming season. Last year, an arbitrator tossed Rice's indefinite suspension.