The Second Circuit United States Court of Appeals delivered a strong blow to the New England Patriots and their quarterback Tom Brady on Monday morning, reinstating the four-game suspension levied by the NFL against Brady from the ‘Deflate-gate’ Investigation.

U.S. Appeals Court Reinstates Tom Brady’s Four-Game ‘Deflate-gate’ Suspension

“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. Accordingly, we REVERSE the judgment of the district court and REMAND with instructions to confirm the award,” the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday in a 2-1 decision in New York.

The appeals ruling follows a September decision by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman that went against the league, letting Brady skip the suspension. In his ruling, Berman cited “several significant legal deficiencies” in the league’s handling of the controversy, including no advanced notice of potential penalties, the refusal to produce a key witness and the apparent first-ever discipline of a player based on a finding of “general awareness” of someone else’s wrongdoing.

The decision by the three-judge panel, which overturned a lower judge and sided with the league in a battle with the NFL Players Association, could potentially end the legal debate over the scandal that led to months of scores of football fans heatedly arguing over the reputation of one of the NFL’s top teams. It will also likely reignite the debate over whether the QB played any significant role in using under-inflated footballs in the team’s AFC Championship victory over the Indianapolis Colts in January 2015. The Patriots then went on to win the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks.

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“Our role is not to determine for ourselves whether Brady participated in a scheme to deflate footballs or whether the suspension imposed by the Commissioner should have been for three games or five games or none at all. Nor is it our role to second-guess the arbitrator’s procedural rulings,” Judge Barrington D. Parker wrote in the majority opinion. “Our obligation is limited to determining whether the arbitration proceedings and award met the minimum legal standards established by the Labor Management Relations Act.”

The Second Circuit Court added that the contract between the players and the NFL gave the commissioner authority that was “especially broad.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell insisted that the suspension was deserved.

“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,” the NFL said in a statement. “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 expressed disappointment in the ruling in a statement, and added that it will review its options.

“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,” the NFLPA said.

The NFLPA and Brady can petition for a re-hearing in front of the same panel or take their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, though either move is unlikely and could be very costly.

The NFL can either implement the full suspension or attempt to reach a settlement and avoid further appeals.

As part of the suspension, Brady could miss games against the Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills next season. He would be eligible to return in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns. The NFL also argued that it was fair for Goodell to penalize Brady after the QB impeded the league’s investigation by destroying a cellphone containing nearly 10,000 messages.

Jimmy Garoppolo is the only other quarterback currently on the Patriots roster. He threw four passes in five games last season, completing one for six yards.

The Patriots have not yet given an official statement.

Brady signed a two-year contract extension during the offseason that dropped his 2016 salary from $9 million to $1 million. That could save Brady almost $2 million in lost salary during a four-game suspension.

BREAKING: US Appeals court reinstates New England Patriots’ Tom Brady’s suspension over ‘deflategate’ – Reuters

HOUSTON, TX – DECEMBER 13: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots in the pocket against the Houston Texans in the first quarter on December 13, 2015 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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