NEW YORK - A U.S. appeals court on Monday restored the four-game "Deflategate" suspension of New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady over allegations footballs were under inflated before an NFL playoff game last year.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York reversed a federal judge's ruling from September. The appeals court ruled that in imposing the suspension, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell properly exercised his discretion under a collective bargaining agreement.
"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," Circuit Judge Barrington Parker wrote for the majority.
The ruling came in a 2-1 vote by the three-judge panel, and followed arguments last month where a lawyer for the players' union faced tough questioning that signaled the likely reversal of U.S. District Judge Richard Berman's ruling.
Representatives for the NFL, the Patriots and the union, the National Football League Players Association, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Brady, 38, had been suspended in May 2015, four months after under-inflated footballs were used in the Patriots' 45-7 victory over Indianapolis in January 2015's AFC championship game.
That win took the Patriots to the Super Bowl, where they defeated the defending champion Seattle Seahawks, giving Brady his fourth championship title.
The NFL suspended the league's two-times most valuable player after Ted Wells, a lawyer hired by the NFL to investigate the incident, said Brady was "generally aware" that two Patriots employees had conspired to deflate the balls, which could make them easier to grip.
Goodell upheld the suspension on July 28, prompting the legal challenge on Brady's behalf.Brady has denied knowing about any plan to deflate footballs.
Berman in Manhattan overturned Goodell's decision last Sept. 3. He said Brady "had no notice that his discipline would be the equivalent of the discipline imposed upon a player who used performance enhancing drugs."
Berman's decision allowed Brady to play the full 2015 NFL season. The Patriots made the playoffs but did not reach the Super Bowl.
UPDATE (12:55 p.m.): The NFL's statement on the decision is below.