It’s been nearly a year and a half since the controversy that became known as Deflategate began, in the 2015 AFC Championship Game between the Patriots and Colts. Patriots QB Tom Brady was suspended four games for allegedly deflating footballs below an acceptable level and not participating in the league’s investigation. Brady appealed the punishment in court, but after the latest ruling in which the 2nd Circuit declined to rehear his case, Brady announced today on Facebook that he is dropping the legal battle and he will sit out the first four games of the season
In the Facebook post, Brady thanked the Patriots organization, his family and friends for their support over the last 18 months but he has “made the difficult decision to no longer proceed with the legal process and that he “look[s] forward to having the opportunity to return to the field this fall.”
If Brady pursued the case further, his last chance at getting the suspension reversed would have been at the Supreme Court, but it is unlikely the highest court in the land would agree to hear the case. If the Supreme Court granted a stay of the suspension while deciding whether to hear the case, Brady could have been facing the four-game suspension later in the season, rather than at the beginning, so he decided to stop fighting now and sit out the first four games.That allows backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo to take first-team reps during the upcoming training camp and preseason, knowing that he will be under center for the first quarter of the season.
In two seasons as Brady’s backup, Garoppolo — who was selected in the second round of the 2014 draft (No. 62 overall) out of Eastern Illinois — has appeared in 11 games, without a start. In his appearances, Garoppolo is 20-31 for 188 yards with 1 touchdown and 0 interceptions. He’ll face a tough test in Week 1, heading to Arizona to take on the Cardinals in a Sunday night contest. The next three games are all home games for the Patriots, with the Dolphins on the docket in Week 2, a Thursday night game against J.J. Watt and the Texans in Week 3, and the Bills in Week 4. When Brady makes his first start of 2016, it’ll be on the road in Week 5 against the Browns. Brady then gets his first home game the following week when the Bengals come to Gillette Stadium.