"Deflategate" is finally a thing of the past.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady announced via his Facebook page Friday that he is dropping his legal case against the NFL, meaning he will serve a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season. Included in that is a Week Four game against the Buffalo Bills.
Brady’s announcement came after he suffered a legal setback Wednesday when the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan rejected his request for the court to reconsider an April ruling that found NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was within his rights to suspend Brady for his role in the Patriots' use of underinflated footballs in the 2015 AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Although Brady has dropped out of the appeal, the National Football League Players Association indicated that it may still petition the U.S. Supreme Court.
Brady and the NFLPA could have asked the 2nd Circuit Court for a "stay," of the four-game suspension, but elected not to pursue that option.
The full statement from the NFLPA reads: "After careful consideration and discussion with Tom Brady, the NFLPA will not be seeking a stay of the four game suspension with the 2nd Circuit. This decision was made in the interest of certainty and planning for Tom prior to the New England Patriots season. We will continue to review all of our options and we reserve our rights to petition for cert to the Supreme Court."
Barring that appeal to the Supreme Court, Brady will miss the Patriots' season opener against the Arizona Cardinals, then home games against Miami, Houston and Buffalo.
That's undeniably good news for the Bills: Brady has a record of 25-3 in 28 career games against them. Brady's streak of 112 consecutive games played in the regular season will end in Week One.
In an appearance on NFL Network earlier this week, Bills defensive tackle Marcel Dareus said he wasn’t celebrating Brady’s absence in Week Four, when backup Jimmy Garoppolo will likely get the nod.
"I hate that Brady's not going to be there," Dareus said. "When he come back ... it's on."
Dareus was then asked if a win against a Brady-less New England team would be "a little less valued."
"Yeah. I mean, we win, all right, we win, but I don't feel like I really won until we beat the guy," Dareus said. "I love playing against Brady. I get up for him. I've been playing against him every year. He knows I'm coming.
"So for him not to be out there just kind of tears me up a little bit, but the second time I see him, like, we going to be excited to play against him. That's the win we want."
That opportunity will come when the Bills host New England in Week Eight.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft also released a statement of his own Friday, rebuking the NFL for its investigation.
"While I was disappointed with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision not to rehear Tom Brady's case, I am most frustrated that Tom was denied his right to a fair and impartial process," Kraft said. "The league's investigation into a football pressure matter was flawed and biased from the start, and has been discredited nearly unanimously by accredited academics and scientists.
"The penalty imposed by the NFL was unprecedented, unjust and unreasonable, especially given that no empirical or direct evidence of any kind showed Tom did anything to violate League rules prior to, during or after the 2015 AFC Championship Game. What Tom has had to endure throughout this 18-month ordeal has been, in my opinion, as far removed from due process as you could ever expect in this country."